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Full text of "Strange clues, or, Chronicles of a city detective"


ronicles of a City Detective, 



— 7- 




EMtfURGH ard GLASGOW: J, MENZIES & CO. 



mam 



Robert W. Woodruff 
Library 




G- Greene Collection 



EMORY UNIVERSITY 

Special Collections & Archives 



STRANGE CLUES-. 



OR, 



Chronicles of a City Detective, 



By JAMES M'GOVAN, 

AUTHOR OF "BROUGHT TO BAY" AND "HUNTED DOWN." 



SEVENTH EDITION. 



EDINBURGH: 
JOHN MENZIES AND COMPANY. 

LONDON : SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, & CO. 



1885. 
All rights resenedi 



WORKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR. 

BROUGHT TO BAY; 

OR, 

EXPERIENCES OF A C I T Y D E T ECT I VE. 
Tenth Edition. 



HUNTED DOWN; 

OR, 

RECOLLECTIONS OF A C I T Y D ET E CT 1 VE. 

LigHi. Edition. 



TRACED AND TRACKED; 

OR, 

MEMOIRS OF A CITY DETECTtVE. 
Fifth Edition. 



The above are uniform in size and price with " Strange CLUes " and 
the four works form the complete set of M'Govan's Detective Stories. 



CONTENTS. 



"copital!" 

a harvest mystery, 

the square-toed bluchers, 

little liz's locket, 

a cracksman's ruse, 

a waif of the gutter, 

a silver-plated button, 

bonnie bell, the machinist, 

spirit rappers, . 

unclaimed money, 

''larks!" 

the blood-stone ring, . 

the wife-killer, 

self executioners, 

aileen o'reilly's task, . 

needle nip's strange record, 

a spider's web, . 

an unburied burglar, . 

caught in a grey coat, 

the cam'-staned door step, 

the missing tools, 

an old score, 

an expensive prescription, 

dead beat : an incident of the bank failure, 

a splutter of ink, 

a woman's love, . 

born to crime, . 

a house with crimson blinds, 

the diamond-ringed apprentice, 

the umbrella mender's quest, 



PAGE 
I 

13 
24 

35 
49 
63 
75 
87 
98 
1 10 
121 
133 
145 
157 
16S 
181 
194 
207 
219 
232 
243 
255 
267 
278 
289 
301 
313 
324 
335 
346 



STRANGE CLUES. 



"COPITAL!" 

THEY say that when one hare is being chased by the 
hounds, another sometimes crosses the scent, and thus 
unwittingly leads the hounds to itself. We are so often called 
hounds, that it will do little harm if for the moment I admit 
the name to be correct, for the sake of illustrating the present 
exceptional case. I am not aware whether a crossed scent 
occurs frequently in hare hunting, not being a hare hunter 
myself; but among the few similar cases which have cropped 
up in my own peculiar hunting, the following stands out as 
worthy of notice. 

One morning, about five o'clock, a policeman on the Canon- 
gate beat was found by the sergeant seated at the foot of a 
common stair, apparently fast asleep. The circumstance was 
so unlooked for — the man being particularly active and vigilant 
— that the sergeant stooped to make sure that it was he, and 
then was startled to find that the man's face was brutally 
mauled, and himself not asleep, but quite insensible from his 
injuries. He was carried home and attended to; but his con- 
dition was so critical, that we were instructed to look out 
sharply for his assailant. The man himself was quite unable 
to give us any information, but the policeman on the next beat 
speedily tendered the information that Fairley, the injured 
man, had reported to him having twice observed a thief known 
to us as " Tommy Cockhat," loitering, and had announced his 
intention to " pounce upon him " if he turned up a third time. 
The rascal alluded to was well known to us all, having a weak- 
ness for strutting in a white waistcoat, and with his hat cocked 
jauntily on one side of his close-cropped head. Sometimes he 
was called " Hammy," from the fact that his first conviction had 
been for stealing a ham; but on the whole the hat had the 
best of it. To find and arrest this man, then, would have been one 
of the easiest things in the world ; but what good would the 
s. c. A 



" CO PITA L r 



arrest have done ? Supposing the victim of his brutal fists and 
toe-plated boots should never recover consciousness — in a. 
word, should die — he would be as safe as ourselves. It may 
not be generally known, but we aim more at securing convic- 
tions, than at merely arresting suspected men. My most earnest 
wish, then, was to collect evidence against Tommy, and if 
possible to collect that evidence from his own boastful lips. 
The man who is silly enough to be vain about his personal 
appearance is generally quite as eager to wag his tongue about 
what he considers his own cleverness. Of course, I did not 
expect Mr Tommy Cockhat to walk up to the office, and begin 
boasting of what he had done, for there his cleverness was 
not likely to be applauded. I wished to listen to his sentiments 
while he revelled in security among his own kind. 

Now, the house most frequented by Tommy happened to 
be a public-house in the Canongate, the proprietor of which, 
with tender solicitude for the welfare and comfort of these 
patrons, had set apart a room for their use. This place was too 
far from the ground for any one to hope to overhear aught that 
passed within, and, being completely shut off from the other 
rooms, could not be approached from any side with hope of 
success, or without the occupants being made aware of the 
intrusion. In examining the room one day, however, it had 
struck me that our wish might be gratified in an odd manner, 
if ever occasion imperatively called for such an attempt. In 
the centre of the ceiling there had at one time been hanging a 
lustre, which had evidently been removed in favour of the more 
economical and modest gas bracket which now served to 
illuminate the room. A fancy centre-piece of plaster yet 
decorated the ceiling, and in this could be seen the pipe to 
which the lustre had been screwed. The absence of anything 
in the shape of a wooden peg, or other contrivance to prevent 
an escape of gas, convinced me that the lead pipe had long 
been disused or removed, and that my task would be easy on 
that score. 

The time for such action had now come. Permission was 
accordingly obtained to use the room immediately above this 
reception room of eminent rascals — which was occupied as a 
dwelling-house — and I had the floor lifted in the centre, exactly 
at the spot where the pipe leading to the lustre had been cut 
off and removed. The scrap remaining, which was fastened to 
one of the flooring beams, after being straightened and widened 
a little at the top, served as a capital listening hole for me, and 



" COPITALV 



at the same time gave me a view of about twelve inches of the 
beer-stained table directly below. 

Regarding the immediate object of my listening, I may say 
that the whole preparations were fruitless, though Tommy was 
ultimately secured and convicted upon the evidence of the 
recovered policeman. But on the second night of my listen- 
ing I came upon a crossed scent, and, thereafter, what I may 
fairly call a strange clue. Two men came into the room below 
me, and, having ordered beer and lit their pipes, told the waiter 
that if a "gentleman called Snoddy" should appear and ask for 
" two gentlemen as he was to see," he was to be shown up, and 
a third glass of beer brought for his consumption. 

I did not find the conversation of the two men very interest- 
ing or edifying. Their faces, unfortunately, I could not see, 
and even their occasional allusions to each other as "Pete" 
and "Jemmy" did not give me the slightest inkling to their 
identity. Petes and Jemmys are as common among my 
" bairns," as Pats among the Irish, and the voices of the two 
below me were so strange to me, that I soon decided that they 
were comparatively fresh arrivals. 

For some time after their arrival the two conversed in a low 
tone about the absent Snoddy, and speculated eagerly as to 
whether he had "got it" or no; and then they set upon their 
esteemed friend's character and tore it to rags, calling him "an 
extortionate cheat and swindler, who wanted as much for look- 
ing on as they would get for working, but who would maybe 
find himself mightily mistaken when it came to the squaring-up." 

" We'll square him," remarked Pete, with a grim chuckle 
and a nudge across the table, which gave me a glimpse of his 
greasy coat sleeve. " We'll get rid on the stuff first, then pay 
ourselves second, and give him his share third. See?" 

Jemmy did appear to see, for he poked Pete across the table, 
and laughed till some of the beer or smoke went down the 
wrong way, and pulled him up with a desperate fit of choking 
and coughing. 

"Yes, last served don't always come off best," remarked 
Jemmy, and here it was that I began to take something like an 
interest in their plans. " And, besides, we have not on'y the 
work to do and the risk to bear, but the cloth to melt." 

" Yes, an' we knows what cloth is to melt," grumpily added 
Pete. " 'Tain't like wedge or dross, that can be shoved into 
the pot and so changed that no one 'ud know it. But cloth ! 
who'll fence it an' give more'n a sixth its vally? And we daren't 



" CO PITA L /" 



have it made into togs, though I'm despit bad off for new 
ones, 'cause we'd be spotted and had up at the Central first 
time we showed our noses out of doors;" and having uttered 
this remark somewhat bitterly and resentfully, Mr Pete launched 
into a string of imprecations, which began with the absent 
Snoddy, and from him went back to his earliest progenitors. 

These thieves, however, are not to be too harshly criticised 
for this species of wolfish ingratitude towards their friend, as 
the same practice obtains in the very highest circles in the land, 
even down to the warm and affectionate greeting which both 
men speedily awarded to the tout whom they had a few breaths 
earlier been cursing to his marrow bones. After a little, 
" Snoddy " appeared, and instantly had his dirty paw warmly 
wrung across the table by his companions; indeed, the three 
hands happened to meet exactly under my sight hole, and 1 
began to wish that one at least of the three had been distin- 
guished by some malformation or scar for after use to me. As 
soon as this touching proof of love was gone through, and 
Snoddy's beer had been brought in, with a pack of greasy cards 
to keep them from wearying, Pete launched into a somewhat 
fulsome eulogy of Snoddy's skill and knowingness, and con- 
cluded by confidently expressing a belief that upon this im- 
portant occasion his knowingness had not been expended in 
vain. Snoddy's reply was an exclamation of delight, accom- 
panied by a violent slapping of his leg; and, though I little 
thought it at the time, this exclamation was to prove my sole 
clue in the curious case which followed. 

"Capital! capital! Go, that's dashed clever!" he cried, in 
a broad Scotch accent, evidently relishing the flattery with 
which he had just been bespattered. 

The first word, I may say, was pronounced " Copital," and 
as the conversation proceeded I found that Snoddy had a kind 
of craze for using the word "Copital," and inserted it upon 
every available occasion, even when not particularly appropriate. 

" I s'pose ye got all the partic'lars about the plant, with a 
plan o' the place, and the easiest way of getting in?" inquiringly 
interposed Jemmy. 

" Yes; copital, man! copital!" exuberantly answered Snoddy, 
of whom I tried in vain to get a glimpse. " I saw the porter, 
who's an auld acquaintance o' mine, and pumped him dry. 
But it cost me three half gills, so ye'll need to pay me for them, 
forbye my share." 

" Oh, yes, we'll pay ye for them," darkly returned Pete, with 



" COPITAL !* 



I suspect a meaning glance at his companion, whereupon 
Jemmy emphatically added — 

" In course; all expenses to be paid out of the funds." 

" Copital ! That's wise like," delightedly answered Snoddy. 
" And here's a plan o' the place that I got the porter to write 
oot;" and he placed a turned envelope flat on the table, showing 
some scrawling lines on its surface, of which I, from my high 
perch, could make nothing. "It's no very weel written, for the 
creatur' was half drunk when he did it, but I can explain to ye 
what it means." 

"Fire away, then; go ahead," said Pete, a little impatiently, 
and at the same moment the scalps of two close-cropped heads 
came forward almost within range of my peep-hole; but the 
faces being bent down over the paper, prevented anything like 
a sight of their features. 

" Weel, this square place is the shop, and this wee place at 
the back is the cutting room. The tailors' shops are below, but 
you'll no likely bother wi' them, unless ye want some auld iron, 
and care to take away a half dizzen o' their guses. Ha, ha! 
Copital! copital!" and Snoddy laughed consumedly at his own 
joke, in which merriment the others politely joined. 

" That's all very well; we know 'bout as much as that already, 
but how the d — 1 are we to get in?" gruffly asked Pete. 

" Oh, just wait a wee. I've arranged a' thing, and the getting 
in is as easy as supping porridge," said Snoddy, undismayed. 
" I tellt the porter that a friend o' mine was thinking o' buying 
the shop, so he described it a' to me, as weel. as if he had shown 
me owre the shop. At ae time the place was bigger, and the 
grocer's next door was pairt o' the shop. A wee bit o' the 
partition wa' that separates them is only ae brick thick, and 
ye'll no find it ill to break through that. This mark on the 
plan shows where the weak bit is." 

" Then we're to crack the grocer's crib first," said Peter, 
somewhat woefully. " That's a nice easy job you've given us. 
Well, never mind, I 'spose it's the best we can do." 

"Copital! ye're richt there," cried Snoddy, encouragingly. 
" The shop is owre strong for breaking into, wi' iron bars 
on the back windows and iron shutters in front, but the 
grocer's back window can be got in at as easy as lichting my 
pipe." 

"It's all very easy to them as ain't got to do it," sourly 
answered Pete; to which Jemmy so far agreed as to say, " very 
easy." " I think on the whole, that a good deal less'n the 



" COPITAL /» 



third should be enough for your share. What d'ye say, now; 
will ye- take half of the third when its all over? " 

" Na, na ! a bargain's a bargain," cunningly returned Snoddy, 
so far disapproving of the reduction as to forget to exclaim, 
"Copital!" as usual. "I maun hae fair share. A third's 
naething, seeing that it a' depended on me." 

"S'pose we flings yer overboard, and pays ye as we like?" 
darkly suggested Pete; "what could ye do then?" 

" Land ye baith in the Police Offis in ten meenits," promptly 
returned the affectionate and devoted Snoddy. 

"Ye wouldn't do that? ye wouldn't turn traitor?" breath- 
lessly exclaimed the thieves. 

" Dae't? I wad dae't if ye wis my ain brithers. Ha, ha! 
copital, man! copital ! A very guid joke o' us baith, for coorse 
it was only a joke; only ye maun expect to get as guid as ye 

" Very well; we'll stick to our agreement," said Pete, being 
unable at the moment to make anything better of it. " In 
course it was on'y a joke." 

I thought I had now heard enough to justify me, if not in 
arresting all the three, at least in having their movements 
watched, and their place of abode ascertained, in event of any 
action coming of their plans; and hastily leaving my listening 
post, I got down to the front street. Some others had entered 
the room, and the interesting trio were about to leave as I 
came to this decision; but when I reached the street I was, 
first, at a loss whether to wait for them at the front or back 
door; and, second, after a pause in front, and an anxious rush 
round to the back, uncertain whether they had got out before 
me, or merely slipped into another box or room. To this day, 
indeed, I do not know how or when the three left the shop; 
but when I entered it carelessly a few minutes later in search 
of them, they were certainly not in the building. I could have 
asked for them by name, but as I was but too well known in 
the place, to do so would have at once alarmed the men and 
led to nothing so far as I was concerned; for as swift as my 
mouth shaped their names in inquiry, so swift would the news 
be wafted to their ears, " M'Govan's asking for you. Look 
out ! " I therefore said nothing, but finished my glass of beer, 
and after a second saunter through the various rooms and 
several scowling or smiling greetings from known men, I left 
the place, resolved to try and trace the men if possible by their 
names. 



" CO PIT A L /" 7 



Of this plan nothing came, as I had faintly feared, and that 
for two good reasons. When a robbery is in prospect, especi- 
ally by thieves who are strangers in a town, and therefore the 
more likely to be noticed by professional ferrets, the really 
cunning keep themselves well hidden, knowing that in the hue 
and cry immediately following the crime they will certainly be 
pounced upon. I therefore was not surprised to discover 
nothing of Pete or Jemmy; and as for Snoddy, I had decided 
from the first that he was more a drunken loafer than a man 
living by crime alone. My only concern was for the intended 
victim, and to avert as far as possible coming danger I had 
every likely shop in the city warned of the distinguished visitors 
they were likely to receive. Here, however, perhaps from the 
shortness of the time at my disposal, or perhaps from an over- 
look, I made a signal blunder: I warned only the cloth 
merchants in Edinburgh. 

On the third morning after the interesting interview, I was 
startled by news of a burglary having taken place at Leith, the 
details of which agreed so exactly with the scheme of Snoddy 
that I at once identified the work, and, of course, went down 
and had the porter of the establishment arrested on a charge of 
furnishing the thieves with a plan of the building and certain 
information as to its contents. The man was thoroughly 
frightened and awed, but he was so stupid and low in intellect 
that he either could not or would not recollect having an inter- 
view with Snoddy, or indeed the slightest knowledge of such a 
man. Probed sharply on the point by me, he admitted having 
a hazy recollection of being addressed by some such man, and 
treated to several glasses of whisky, but swore that he was too 
drunk at the time for any of the conversation which occurred 
to remain in his memory. 

This was a severe blow for me, and the more irritating as the 
plunder not only amounted to about ^200 worth of cloth and 
drapery goods, but to above ^30 in bank-notes, which, though 
known by the numbers, might be paid in at any moment. 
More: I had foolishly expressed a conviction that I thought I 
could lay my hands on one at least of the gang — meaning 
Snoddy — and here I was left in the lurch, with only a stupid 
and quaking porter in charge, whom I knew it would be useless 
to try to seriously implicate. Again, when I came back to the 
office with the doleful intelligence that I believed I was help- 
less, our Lieutenant merely smiled, and said confidently to 
some one — " Oh, he knows more than he's inclined to tell. 



" CO PITA l r 



He'll certainly have them before long;" and no assurances of 
mine to the contrary could shake their confidence. 

It was exactly at this point that my curious clue came in. 

On the morning after that on which the robbery had been 
reported, I was standing in the Police Court helping to accel- 
erate the business by hurrying the prisoners in and out as they 
were chaiged and dealt with, when one insolent prisoner, upon 
being fined in five shillings, or seven days, for being drunk, 
impudently addressed the bench with the words — 

"Seven days? Dae ye think that fair? Hoo wad you like 
to be sentenced to seven days on bread an' water if ye had ta'en 
a gless owre muckle last nicht? " 

There was an instantaneous rumble of laughter among the 
audience; but above all the laughter, and even the sharp tones 
of the Fiscal ordering the prisoner back, there came to my ears 
the heavenly sound of the words — 

"Copital! copital!" 

I started round, pale to the ears with excitement, just as the 
magistrate wrathfully fixed the delinquent in the audience with 
his eye, and hurled out the words — "Silence there, in Court!" 
and there I saw the blotched face of a drunken toper of some 
fifty years, grinning delightedly, and quite unabashed by the 
rebuke of the bench. 

I stared at the man — who did not see me — for some moments, 
with a fast beating heart, and trying hard to swiftly decide upon 
a course of action. It is true, I could have jumped forward 
and arrested him there and then; but I guessed that, like the 
gripping of the porter, the action would put me farther than 
ever from the actual burglars, while the plunder itself would 
probably never be seen or heard of. I wished to throw out a 
hook to catch both thieves and plunder, and was trying to de- 
cide how I could bait that hook with the estimable Snoddy 
himself. Unable to think of any better plan, I sat down and 
scribbled the following line to the Superintendent, and had it 
handed across to him. 

" Please to have that man who shouted 'Copital!' detained 
and fined, however trifling the charge. I want him." While 
this line was being read, the prisoner had been brought back 
and sentenced to other seven days for contempt of court — 
fourteen in all — without the option of a fine. 

" Better make it fourteen years, while ye're at it," he recklessly 
remarked; whereupon the audience again tittered, and Snoddy 
boisterously shouted — 



" COPITAL /" 



" Copital, man ! copital ! " 

At the same moment my line was handed to the bench, read 
slowly, and then the Sheriff simply nodded to me, and called 
the next case. While the prisoner next on the list was being 
brought in, I went through to the back part of the Court re- 
served for the audience, and stepping up behind my man, with- 
out touching him, said sharply and clearly — "Snoddy!" 

Instantly his blotched face was turned in my direction, and 
his eyes scanned my face in uncertainty, as if trying in vain to 
discover in me an old acquaintance. 

"Did you speak to me, sir?" he cringingly inquired. 

"I did. Come through here; there's a gentleman here 
wishes to speak to you." 

Snoddy seemed to hesitate, with a faint suspicion of coming 
trouble; but I quickened his motions in the direction of the bar, 
by collaring him and bundling him through with as hearty good 
will as I ever handled prisoner. 

The case at the bar was speedily disposed of, and then, in 
spite of his voluble protest, Snoddy — whose whisky-laden breath 
would have " knocked a cuddy down " — was arraigned and 
charged with interrupting the business of the Court. 

" Five shillings, or seven days," was the calm reply to his 
whining entreaties. " Next case." 

" I havena fivepence in the world," cried Snoddy, as I 
dragged him out, and hurried him down with my own hands to 
a separate cell, and saw him safely locked up. 

" Very likely not," was my dry rejoinder; '"but you'll have 
friends, I suppose?" 

" No a friend in the blessed world," he shouted. 

"Then you won't be missed for seven days," was my feeling 
rejoinder, and there I left him. 

In spite of his protest, however, he soon came to his senses, 
as I had anticipated, and decided that he had friends who 
could help him, and that whether they were likely to miss him 
or not, it were much better to be roaming the streets and hard 
ale shops in freedom, than pining in prison at the monotonous 
oakum picking or stone breaking. An hour or two after he 
was locked up, he very humbly asked for pen, ink, and paper, 
and then wrote out the following affectionate epistle, which he 
addressed to his dear friend, Pete : — 

"i've got teken up, an' fined for laffin in the police Court, please give 
Bearer five bob, an' keep it off my share, it'll save a lot of truble if you 
don't refuse. You kno' what i mean. Snoddy." 



16 "COPITAL/" 



This emphatic note, which clearly proved that Snoddy could 
be stern as well as exuberantly facetious, was addressed outside 
to "Mr Pete Strelly, St Mary's Wynd;" and a simple-looking 
policeman being sent down to the cell to receive it, was 
minutely directed as to how he should find the proper house, 
the number of which Snoddy had never taken the trouble to 
ascertain. These directions being repeated to me, and the 
note skilfully opened with a little steam, and then reclosed as 
60on as read, I decided upon delivering the missive in person, 
with one or two auxiliaries in case of difficulty arising in the 
execution of the task. Getting down to St Mary's Wynd, I 
easily found the stair in question, and having no doubt that 
Mr Pete would be found at home, when to appear abroad was 
fraught with danger, I ascended to the top fiat, knocked at 
once at the proper door, and explained my business to the 
Irish woman who opened the door. Inside as I did so I could 
see a cropped head bent over the table at an acute angle, the 
owner being engaged in the — to him — rare and difficult task of 
critically examining the address on a strong white card, such as 
one might affix to a package of goods destined for rail or 
steamer. The face attached to the cropped head I did not 
recognise, because I had never before seen the features; but I 
had no doubt as to the man's identity when the woman instantly 
alluded to him as her lodger, and tendered him the note. 
Having stared rather scowlingly and searchingly at me, Pete 
opened the envelope, and then after scratching his head over 
it for some minutes, at last discovered that he could not read. 
The old woman being appealed to, quickly took the letter in 
her hand, and in about five minutes made a similar discovery. 
Then the note was handed to me, and I read its contents, on 
hearing which Mr Pete looked black as thunder, and audibly 
hoped that he might be a condemned sinner, and steeped 
in everlasting warmth, if he gave a penny towards such an 
object as the release of Snoddy. 

While he was thus expressing himself, I had moved closer to 
the table at which he was seated, and saw that the card he had 
been examining as anxiously as he had afterwards scanned the 
note, bore the following inscription : — 

"Mister pat flannagin 
dealer in old clothes 
Bellfast 
ireland. " 
" Old close, to be kepp dry 
and ly till caled for." 



"COPlTALt* it 



" Well, ye needn't wait here any longer," sharply observed 
Pete. " I'm not going to fork out, an' I don't suppose Jemmy 
— that's a friend of mine — cares a cuss what comes of Snoddy. 
Howsoever, now that I think on it, I'll run down an' see Jemmy, 
and ask what he's going to do. You can come wi' me if you 
like — it's no great distance — a broker's close by." 

Now going to a broker's was exactly what I wished to avoid, 
as the moment one of these gentry should catch sight of my 
face, I knew the whole scheme would explode. However, there 
was no getting out of it now, and I followed Air Pete down the 
stair and street, merely signalling to my men — with a motion 
of the fingers behind my back — to get close in behind me. 

At the broker's Pete walked boldly into the back shop, and 
I followed, expecting to be recognised at every step; but on 
reaching the back I found only another owner of a cropped 
head, busy sewing up a bale of goods for transport, and the 
owner of the shop absent. 

The cause of our visit being explained to the diligent Jemmy, 
he, with more energetic language than his friend, avowed thai 
he hoped Snoddy would rot bones and body in prison; and 
then gleefully added — 

"Tell you it's the best thing that could have happened, for 
by the time his seven days is up, we'll be " 

The remainder of the sentence was spoken in a whispei 
inaudible to me, but seemed to consist of something highly 
amusing, for over it the two chuckled and nudged each other 
till their sides must have been sore. In the midst of their glee 
the broker himself came bustling into the shop, bearing a jug 
in his hand frothing over with about half a gallon of freshly- 
drawn beer. He smiled in concert with the other two till his 
gaze fell upon me, when he instantly staggered back, paled to 
a sickly hue, and dropped the jug smash on the floor. 

Pete and Jemmy started round in fury, and shook him 
roughly. 

"What the d — 1 do you mean by that?" they exclaimed in a 
breath; but he continued only to stare at my face, and then 
managed to stammer out faintly — 

" N — n — nothing," 

Just as he got the words out, however, M' Sweeny and the 
other two closed in on the open door of the back-shop, and the 
trapped thieves, starting back, scented danger for the first time. 

"What's up? what does it mean?" they cried, catching the 
broker's dismay, and faintly sinking into seats 



12 u CdP/TAZ! H 



" M-M-M'Govan! " faltered the broker. " You're done for !" 

The thieves collapsed abjectly, grinding their teeth, and with 
clenched hands vengefully breathing out the one word — 
"Snoddy!" 

Then we handcuffed them together, and took them and the 
broker up to the Office, locking up the shop till we could send 
down a hurly for the valuable bale of "old close," which proved 
to be the entire rolls of cloth stolen four days before in Leith. 

The bank notes we did not find, though we searched well for 
them, till I stumbled across the card which had been meant 
for the bale of cloth, when the idea struck me to inquire at the 
Poste Restante in Belfast, where, sure enough, we found the three 
jQio notes, addressed to " Mister pat flannigan, to lie till called 
for." 

Pete and Jemmy did not meet Snoddy till they were placed 
together at the bar of the High Court, when the first-named 
gentleman instantly improved the shining hour by striking 
Snoddy a terrific blow on the temples, which effectually counted 
him out of that day's proceedings. 

From that blow Snoddy never fairly recovered, though he 
was spared long enough to help to send his beloved pals to a 
well-deserved sentence of ten years' penal servitude. Should 
either of them be alive and read this account, what throes of 
anguish will rend their tender bosoms upon discovering that 
their suspicions were unkind, and their retaliation cruel and 
unjust! 



A HARVEST MYSTERY- 13 



o 



A HARVEST MYSTERY 

About a mile south of Edinburgh there is a high point on 
the common road at which weary travellers get their first 
limpse of the spires, castle, and thick-set house-tops of the 
city. The road at that point being secluded, girt by soft green 
banks, and sheltered from every rude wind by tall hedges, it is 
a spot at which hundreds upon hundreds have paused to view 
the city beneath, in peaceful joy or fierce discontent, as the 
case might be, before passing on their way to battle for an 
existence. Towards the point I have described, three footsore 
wanderers were approaching from the south one calm, clear 
evening in September, when the pale sunshine, striking in level 
rays across shorn fields, indicated that sunset was close at 
hand. The three travellers were ragged, and somewhat dirty, 
but bright, hopeful, and animated withal. There was a 
mother, Mrs O'Donnel ; there was a curious bundle of rags, 
with towsy head and quick eyes, called Phelim, who was nearly 
ten, and son of Mrs O'Donnel ; and there was a delicate slip 
of a girl of about six, called Aileen, sister of Phelim, and the 
special concern of both him and his mother. 

Over Mrs O'Donnel's back were slung a reaping hook 
sheathed in straw, and a bundle tied tightly up in a coloured 
cotton handkerchief. Phelim had no reaping hook over his 
shoulder, being too small and young to use one, but he also 
had a bundle hung over his shoulder; and it is between these 
two bundles that lies the mystery of this sketch. 

They were very tired with walking miles upon miles on stony 
roads, and now draggled on in Indian file in the order of their 
strength — the mother foremost, Phelim a little behind her, and 
Aileen some distance further back. As they began to ascend 
the last point before sighting Edinburgh, Phelim turned to see 
his sister limping painfully along ; and in spite of having the 
bundle to carry, waited till she reached his side, lifted her in 
his arms, and manfully attempted to bear her up the slope. 



i 4 A HARVEST MYSTERY. 

A yard or two of the double toil was enough for him; for he 
breathlessly let her down with the words— 

"Och, sure, it's willin' I am, Aileen, dear; but the stringth 
won't let me." 

So they moved along, hand in hand, Phelim showing her how 
to keep on the soft, cool grass skirting the road, and so save 
her feet, already cut and bleeding. The mother already stood 
at the highest point, her rough figure standing out clear on a 
background of mild blue sky; and when Phelim reached her 
side and beheld the great city beneath, with its thousand 
windows and sharp spires flaring redly in the declining sun 
he suddenly clapped his hands in delight, and eagerly ex- 
claimed — 

"Oh, mother dear! is that Oirland?" 

"No, darlin', it's only Edinburgh," was the mother's reply. 
" And the next town's Glasgow, and then we come to Ireland 
Sure, it would seem a long way, if your poor father wasn't at 
the end of it, waiting to welcome us back wid a smile and a 
blessin'." 

" Yes, and he'll be so proud to see we've saved so much, and 
not spent a farthin' barring what we couldn't help," observed 
Phelim, with the air of an old man, as they seated themselves 
on the green bank in sight of the city, and he thrust his feet 
into the trickling stream by the road side. " Sure, isn't it 
sweet to sit on the grass wid your feet in the cool wather? I 
could sit here all night, mother, and never weary. It's the 
gettin' up again that bothers me." 

" Then your father 'ud get small comfort out of us if we sat 
idling while he was in want," reprovingly remarked the mother, 
as she produced a hunk of shearer's bread, and gave each of 
the children a piece. " We'd have had other three days' 
shearin', but for that blackguard Owld Shaun. He bears us no 
goodwill, and would take the bit out of our mouths if he could, 
bad luck to him ?" 

" Yes, and he laughed at me because my trouser legs don't 
both come to my ankles," said Phelim, in hot resentment. 
" And then he said he thought we'd be going home on the 
shocharawn; so I fired up and said we might look like beggars, 
but we weren't, and that mebbe we're not so poor as people 
tuck us for." 

" Bad cess to him, he'll sup sorrow for it yet," remarked the 
mother, " and all because he couldn't get the cabin tuck from 
your poor father and give to him." 



A HARVEST MYSTERY. 15 

" Yet he gave me a ha'penny to run a message," said little 
Aileen, in grateful remembrance. 

" Humph! if I'd been there you'd have flung it back in his 
face," hotly observed the boy. " What did he mane by saying 
we'd feathered our nest well, and hadn't kept in with the master 
for nothing? Faith, I was never happier than when we left 
him behind, and walked away along the road, every step 
bringin' us nearer Oirland!" 

The mother said nothing, but took Aileen in her lap and 
chafed the bruised and cut feet in a tender way that made all 
pain and fatigue vanish as by magic. Phelim, with the irre- 
pressible spirit still rampant, climbed the opposite bank to look 
through a hedge gap down on the lower and more modern road. 

"There's another road down here, mother," he cried, in 
delighted surprise, " and it's smoother and nicer looking than 
this. Wouldn't we have been better to have taken that one?" 

" No; this one's rough, but it's straighter and shorter. The 
easiest way isn't always the best," said the mother. " Thaving 
is easy, but who ever got rich by it? " 

" There's a policeman going along to Edinburgh — the same 
that used to stop and see us working in the field," added 
Phelim, shading his eyes with his hand. "How the sun shines 
on his hat and belt, and what a tearin' hurry he's in, looking 
over every wall and gate as he goes. I wonder if he's lost any- 
thing? He's speaking to a man now, and the man shakes his 
head. He's off again, and how I'd like if I could walk like 
that ! Sure, I'd be in Oirland to-morrow." 

The mother heard the remark, but was perhaps too busy 
with her own thoughts to particularly note the apparent sim- 
plicity of the allusion to the hurrying policeman, though she 
was to recall every syllable before long. While they were thus 
wearily approaching Edinburgh, and at length reaching the 
threepenny lodging in the Grassmarket called a " Home for 
Travellers," the county police constable whom Phelim had 
seen, was rapidly making his way to the Central Office, where 
he reported the theft of a watch by an Irish woman or her 
chiiunin who had that day quitted the employment of the 
farmer robbed, with the intention of walking to Edinburgh. 
The theft had been so promptly detected and reported that 
the constable had fully expected to overtake the culprits on 
the road ; but as they had shown more nimbleness than he had 
credited them with, he now required the help of a city officer 
to aid in their arrest, by showing him the likeliest lodging in 



t6 A HARVEST MYSTERY 

the Grassmarket in which to search for his quarry. That this 
part of the city was to be their resting-place appeared to have 
been gathered from a remark they had made before starting; 
and though I had little hope of finding them, and expected 
that the whole would be but a " herring trailed across the 
scent" to mislead, I readily accompanied the man to the 
Grassmarket. The first place visited produced no clue to 
the culprits : but the second, which was crowded to the door 
by a noisy collection of shearers of every age and appearance, 
was more fruitful. When we entered the room there were at 
least fifty weary travellers grouped around, some seated on 
forms, others squatted on the bare floor, all busy talking, pro- 
testing, shouting, or eating, generally at hard bread, cheese, or 
bacon, the more difficult to digest the more profitable to the 
poor hard-working eaters; but the moment the hat of the 
county constable appeared within the doorway, a dead silence 
fell on all. The proprietor of the establishment, fearful of 
fines for over-crowding, was stepping forward to volubly explain 
that not one-half of those present were to sleep in the place 
that night, when I raised a hand sharply, and motioned to the 
constable to speak. 

"Is there one Mrs O'Donnel here, with her boy Phelim and 
and her girl Aileen ? " he demanded, in a voice startling 
enough in its official-like sternness to make every one present 
glance fearfully and suspiciously at his neighbour. 

" Yes, sur, I'm here, and my children with me," came at 
once from the other end of the room; and Mrs O'Donnel 
moved forward somewhat excitedly, saying, " Is there anything 
wrong that we're axed for?" 

There was a deep stillness in the long room, as the three 
moved forward, and stood alone in the long circle of wondering 
faces with the keen eye of the constable running quickly over 
their countenances in search of a guilty flush or cowering look. 

" That is what we're here to try to find out. You left the 
Hillside Farm to-day, didn't you?" 

"Yes, sur." 

"What did you take away with you?" 

"Not a rag — not a ha'porth but what was our own," 
vehemently answered the mother, evidently becoming more 
uneasy. " What should we take, I'd like to know? We're not 
thaves, else you wouldn't see our feet cut and sore wid rough 
roads." 

The reasoning, like most advanced by her sex, was some 



A HAR VEST MYSTER Y. 1 7 

what defective, and the stolid constable had no time to waste 
on the niceties of language. 

" Where's your bundles ? Turn them out, if you don't want 
to go with me," he said, with business-like promptitude, being 
evidently accustomed to deal with her class after a fixed idea 
of his own. " You've nothing to hide, I suppose; and as there 
is information against you, p'r'aps it's the best plan you could 
follow, though it's not in our power to force you to it here." 

" May the curse of heaven light on me and my children, il 
you find that we've tuck anything that's not our own," fer- 
vently returned Mrs O'Donnel, as she produced her unopened 
bundle and placed it in the hands of the constable. " There's 
my bundle; open it before all these good paiple, and if I lie 
you may punish me for it." 

The bundle was opened, and every separate article carefully 
examined, but nothing found which might not be picked up for 
nothing any morning from our city dust-heaps. 

" Is that all you've got?" asked the constable, after whisper- 
ing to me, expressing a suspicion that they had rid themselves 
of the plunder on entering the city. 

" All, but the money we've earned by slavin' night an' day 
since we kem over," cried the mother, beginning to breathe 
again, " except Phelim's bundle, wid the stockings and shirts." 

"Where's Phelim's bundle?" asked the constable. 

"Here, sur;" and Phelim turned right round as he spoke, 
and showed it yet fastened on his back. " Sure, I forgot it 
was there till this minit, though I might have felt the weight of 
it after carryin' it so far." 

"And ye may save yourself the bother of opening it, for I 
put it up myself, and was particular that nothing went in it that 
worn't our own," observed the mother, as the bundle was untied 
from the boy's shoulder and opened before her eyes. 

"Nothing but shirts and stockings, you said?" inquiringly 
returned the constable. "What do you call this?" and he 
held up a large horn-handled pocket-knife, with one large blade, 
and a hole through the handle for a string. " Is this yours ?" 

Both mother and boy stared at the knife in mute surprise, 
and at length the face of the former flushed stern and severe 
as she turned on the boy for an explanation. 

" No, that's not ours, unless Phelim got it from any one, or 
found it." 

" Imphm, where the Hielantman found the tongs — at the 
fireside," drily remarked the constable. 

S. C- B 



A HARVEST MYSTERY 



"Speak up, Phelim!" cried the mother, in anguish, to the 
speechless and staring boy. " Did you find the knife and put 
it in the bundle?" 

" No, mother ; I never saw it till this minute, or knew it was 
in the bundle," simply and earnestly answered the boy; and 
something in his face made me incline to believe that he spoke 
the truth, till another exultant cry from my companion sent 
my wits a-fioundering. 

"And you never saw this either, I suppose?" he added, 
turning out a coarse worsted stocking, and producing from the 
inside a silver verge watch, with old-fashioned double cases, 
worth at most ten shillings, and holding it up before their eyes. 
"This is what I've come so far to find. The knife I heard 
nothing of, though we may get an owner for it too, before we 
have done with you." 

A wail of grief burst from the poor mother, and, pale as 
death, and with hands clasped in anguish, she turned and fixed 
one long look of reproach on the tearful countenance of the 
boy. Not a word was spoken — nothing but the mute, death- 
like look of horror and dismay; but the glance spoke to the 
boy as no words could have done, and with a shuddering cry 
he dropped on his knees on the floor, and tried to clasp his 
mother round the knees. 

"Mother, mother!" he screamed, "don't look at me like 
that! It cuts my heart out. I never saw the watch, nor 
touched it, nor knew it was there. Heaven strike me dead 
before you if I don't spake the truth!" and as the piteous words 
rang forth, there was a gruff and sympathetic murmuring from 
all sides of " Amen to that!" 

" Then say you found it ; say you found it!" cried the dis- 
tracted mother, now turned accuser. " Sure, it couldn't walk 
into your bundle itself, and the bundles were never out of our 
hands from the minute I tied them up wid me own hands. 
Don't make us all thaves alike." 

" I didn't take them, nor see them," protested the boy, after 
a dead pause to gaze wistfully into his mother's face. " Sure, 
mother, I can't tell a lie." 

Nothing more could be made of any of them, so we marched 
them off to the Central Office, where, after emitting a similar 
declaration, they were locked up till we could get witnesses. A 
day or two's investigation proved that the pocket-knife had 
been taken from one of the shearers in some mysterious way, 
and that another of the shearers, named John Reilly, but better 



A HARVEST MYSTERY 19 

known as Black Shaun, had heard Phelim say that they — mean- 
ing his mother, sister, and himself — did not mean to leave the 
farm empty-handed, and that before leaving he had seen them 
stow something like a watch away in one of the bundles. 
Having brought in these two witnesses, as well as the farmer 
robbed, we had the case brought up at the Court for trial. All 
three prisoners were placed at the bar, and charged conjointly 
with the theft, and as they as strenuously as ever asserted their 
innocence, the case went to proof. 

Black Shaun had a deal to say that made matters look very 
black for the prisoners, nor was his evidence to be easily over- 
turned; for when any puzzling question was put to him, he took 
refuge in a stupid grin, and the words, " Sure, I don't know 
anything about that, an' I wouldn't wish them harm for all the 
world." 

Questioned more closely as to which of the prisoners he had 
seen put the watch into the bundle, his evidence became haz^ 
and indefinite. 

" Faith, that's more than I could tell; for they wor all soi 
j' mixed up, and I didn't think at the time o' them staling, ant 1 
I was hurrying past; but I'm sure I saw the shining white thing 
amongst them." 

" It's a black-hearted liar he is, savin' your honour's pre- 
sence," cried Mrs O'Donnel. " He has a reason for wishing 
us ill, as he wants the bit cabin at home, that keeps me poor 
sick husband from the cowld and rain. And I'll prove it, yer 
honour. He tried to throw the blame on poor Phelim, when 
the truth is that Phelim wasn't near me when I put up the 
bundles, and they wor that tight tied that no one could have 
slipped the things in after; more by token, they never were out 
of our hands." 

" You have narrowed the question considerably by this state- 
ment," sharply observed the Sheriff, who sat on the bench, after 
a moment's thought. "You state that you alone tied up the 
bundles; that they were so tightly tied up that the things could 
not have been slipped in by an outsider; and lastly, which is 
most important, that the bundles from that moment were never 
out of your joint possession. Yet, according to the evidence 
already given, the articles stolen were found not only inside the 
bundles, but tightly wedged into the centre of a pair of stock- 
ings. Under these circumstances, I think we do not need to 
look far for the criminal. We find you alone guilty of the 
theft. The children can be taken to the poor-house, or sent 



2b A HARVEST MYSTERY. 

home to their father; but in the meantime you must suffer 
imprisonment for " 

A great cry interrupted the Sheriff, and looking round we 
saw Phelim, pale as death, but with a fearful eagerness shining 
out of his eyes, motioning to the Court to allow him to be 
heard. 

"Oh, sur, would you let me spake a word!" he exclaimed. 
"Don't send my mother and the girleen to jail, as they're 
innocent and know nothing about it. I confess it all. I tuck 
the watch, somehow, and slipped it into the bundle unknownst 
to them, thinking — yes — that it 'ud bring a lot of money to 
take home wid us to me father. I didn't know what I was 
doing at the time," he incoherently pursued, with a bright red 
spot on either of his cheeks that a moment before had been 
white as snow; " but I want to be punished and sent to jailfor 
a dreadful long time, if you'll only send them away home to 
my father wid the money they've earned. My father! my 
father!" he suddenly wailed out, stopping short and bursting 
into tears, " oh, what will my father say when he hears I'm a 
thafe!" 

His exclamation was echoed by a pitiable groan from the 
poor mother, who was so overpowered that she had to be 
allowed to sit down. The child Aileen also burst out crying, 
and the scene became so distressing that the Sheriff, anxious 
evidently to get it over, simply said — 

"Humph! he has begun young. Seven days. Remove the 
prisoner and call the next case." 

But to remove the prisoner was precisely where the difficulty 
came in. It is true that his mother made no opposition, but 
sat there as still as if she had just been shot through the heart; 
but the child Aileen threw herself into Phelim's arms, and loudly 
declared that she wanted to go to prison too. Then, as he got 
himself out of her twining arms, he timidly touched his mother's 
motionless figure with his hand to remind her that he was going, 
and at the same time bent down and quickly whispered — 

" Sure, mother, keep up your heart, for I only said it to get 
you off, and let you go back to my father, who'd die if you were 
sent to prison or transported. I won't be missed so much as 
the strong bread-winner, and mebbe I'll be forgiven for the lie, 
and sure I can see that Black Shaun wants us all in prison, and 
it'll be a vartue to cheat him out of it." 

The eyes of the boy, shining as they were with tears, looked 
so truthful and beaming that the mother's apathy and despair 



A HAR VEST M YSTER V 2 1 

vanished more quickly than they had overpowered her; and 
springing to her feet she joyfully cried to the Sheriff — 

"Oh, sur, stop a moment, and don't take the innocent 
gossoon to prison. He says he only said it to get me and the 
girleen off and back to his father; but I can't let him do that, 
and ruin himself for life. Oh, sur, if you've a heart, think of 
the characters he'll meet with in a jail, who'll try to make him 
as bad as themselves, and let him off though you take me in 
his place. Troth, it's alight heart I'll suffer with, now that I 
know he didn't do it." 

To this appeal, with all its native eloquence and thrilling 
power, the Sheriff could make no reply, but a motion of the 
head directing them to remove the convicted prisoner. The 
loud outcry and voluble protests of the mother were made in 
vain, and she herself was speedily expelled the court-room for 
interrupting the business of the morning. But this poor 
wretched woman was not to be so easily repressed. The 
honest Catholic, no matter what part of the globe he or she 
may be cast upon, has a friend that is always accessible, and a 
friend that has often power to right a wrong of the foulest 
description — I mean the Catholic priest. To one of these Mrs 
O'Donnel carried her griefs and her story, and so powerfully 
did she move him that he exerted himself to the utmost in try- 
ing to obtain the release of the boy, and also to establish his 
innocence. He failed, of course ; for a prisoner, once convicted 
on his own pleading of guilt, cannot, however innocent, be 
looked upon as such by the law; but the good he attempted to 
do followed after Phelim's short sentence had expired. Mrs 
O'Donnel had not gone back to Ireland, but by the priest's 
advice sent enough to bring her sick husband to Scotland, 
while with twenty shillings sent her by a lady through the priest, 
she opened a little hovel in the Cowgate as a broker's shop. 
As for Phelim, he showed such intelligence, brightness, and 
unquenchable affection for his parents, that he was sent to a 
school, instead of being allowed to run wild; and at this 
school, as he did not, like the majority in Catholic schools, 
spend the time in romping, shouting, and singing, he first 
became a monitor, and then one of the teachers. When he 
was grown quite a lad, the same friends, finding their assistance 
well bestowed, combined their efforts, and had him sent to All 
Hallow's College, near Dublin, to take orders as a priest. 
Phelim was now a tall, handsome fellow, whom, but for a 
certain softness of eye when speaking of his parents, no one 



2 2 A HAR VEST M YSTER Y. 

would have taken for the ragged urchin convicted on his own 
confession, and sent to prison before my eyes, some ten years 
before. 

Just five years after he had taken orders, I met him in Glas- 
gow, though he had to introduce himself to me and explain 
where we had first met; and at that interview he related to me 
the following incident, which shall form the conclusion of mv 
imperfect sketch: — 

During a bad epidemic of typhus fever in one of the most 
crowded districts of that city, a man — an Irish labourer — was 
taken ill with the fever in its most virulent form. The place in 
which he lodged was a mere garret, belonging to a couple as 
poor as himself; but so great was their consternation and dread 
of the trouble, that they at once abandoned all their effects, and 
left the house and patient to their fate. He had lain thus un- 
attended — sometimes sensible and at others delirious, for two 
days, when an Irish beggar chancing to knock at the door 
discovered him, and was at once assailed with the imploring 
cry — 

"I'm dying! I'm dying! For the love of God, sind for a 
praist! I can't get rest to my sowl till I see a praist." 

The beggar, glad doubtless to fly the spot, did not linger on 
the way, but went straight to the home of Phelim O'Donnel, 
and stated what he had discovered. Phelim was just lying 
down, thoroughly exhausted, having been up all night at cases 
quite as urgent; but the moment the facts were stated, he 
sprang up, donned his clothes, and ran every inch of the way 
to the abode of the dying man. A crowd, awed and silent, 
hung about the foot of the wooden stair, listening to the groans 
and shrieks coming from above; but these uncovered reverently 
as Phelim passed up to the chamber of death, saying joyfully, 
" Here's the praist! Blessed be God, here's the praist at last, 
to say the kind, word to the poor sowl before he goes." 

Phelim O'Donnel passed into the wretched room, and the 
moment he did so the dying man feebly clasped his hand, and 
fixing his eyes upon the visitor, eagerly cried — 

"Oh, sir, I was afeared — I was afeared you wouldn't come. 
Sure I can't get rest to me sowl thinking of a poor wee bouchal 
I wanst ruined and sent to jail by false swearing. We were 
harvesting together, and his mother an' me had an owld grudge, 
and so I gave the innocent girleen a ha'penny to run a fool's 
errand, while I slipped a stolen watch into one of the bundles 
she was watching. Sure, I've seen the boy's face afore me ever 



A HARVEST MYSTERY 23 

since in my dreams, and he's always pushing me — pushing me 
into eternal flames for making him a criminal and sending him 
the bad road! " 

The young priest started up with a joyful cry, removed his 
hat, and placing his face directly before the dying man, 
exclaimed — 

" Black Shaun — John Reilly, look into my face, and bless 
God that His ways are not our ways! I am Phelim O'Donnel; 
and your sin, far from sending me the bad road, was a blessing 
from heaven, that has made me a priest of God, with all the 
world before me to do good in and bless His holy name ! " 

Black Shaun gazed incredulously into the bright face for a 
moment or two, and then sank back with a deep sigh of thank- 
fulness, which speedily was followed by tears of contrition and 
a faint prayer for forgiveness. The scenes which followed — the 
hurried breathing forth of the sins of a lifetime, with the holy 
rites peculiar to their Church — must remain veiled from the 
reader as they were from me; but when Phelim O'Donnel de- 
scended to the awed group below, his face was radiant and 
peaceful, and in answer to the eager inquiries, he said — 

"Yes, he died happy — very happy. God give us all as 
peaceful an end!" 

And then his hearers — as I and perhaps my readers now do 
—with one breath cried "Amen!" 



24 THE SQUARE-TOED BLUCHERS. 



THE SQUARE-TOED BLUCHERS. 

There is not much of a clue, some will say, in a pair of 
coarse boots, and perhaps there isn't, but we are only too glad 
at times of any clue, however trifling. A mere twinkling of 
the eye, as if in triumph, a stammer, or a strong denial, a little 
too brazen-faced, have often to do duty in the same way. And, 
after all, a man may be as readily known by his boots as any- 
thing he wears; for, after finding out by experience the kind of 
boots which suit his work and his feet, he does not change 
much according to the whim of fashion, as he may do in the 
cut of his coat or trousers. 

The first I heard of the bluchers was from a minister's manse 
at the South Side. The dark nights had come, and the family 
were out at a party, excepting the minister himself and the 
servant. The minister, whom I may call Dunlop, ought to 
have been out too; but it chanced to be Friday night, and he 
was still busy with the sermon for the coming Sunday, and so 
he had to remain hard at work in his study, while his wife and 
daughters enjoyed themselves abroad. The study window 
looked out at the end of the house, which was at that part 
closely skirted by a wall with a flat copestone. The front of 
the garden was protected by an iron railing, the last bar of 
which could just be seen, and no more, from the study window 
by any one pressing their face close to the pane. The wall 
itself was a very high one, but in running round the house 
passed within a yard of the window of the servant's room, 
which was built at the back of the house, and immediately 
above the kitchen. 

While Mr Dunlop was deep in his sermon, and quite sure of 
not being disturbed, as his careful wife had locked the front 
gate on leaving, it struck him dimly that some one was tugging 
or rattling at the iron railing guarding the front garden. He 
did not rise immediately, but finished the sentence he was 
writing, without thinking particularly of the sound ; then with 
the first break in his thoughts came the recollection of the 



THE SQUARE-TOED BLUCHERS. 25 

rattling, and he walked to the window and peered down through 
the Venetian blinds in the direction of the wall and the railing. 
No one was visible, but, still unsatisfied, he went inside the 
blind, raised the window, and looked out. The wall passed 
his window so close that he could have touched it with the end 
of his umbrella, and at the beginning of this wall — that is, 
where the iron railing ceased — he plainly saw two dark objects 
resting on the flat copestone. 

"They can't be cats," was his quick thought, "because no 
one ever saw two cats sit side by side in the open air without 
growling or fighting. What can they be?" 

Neither the light nor the minister's eyesight was good, so he 
left the study and softly entered a room with a window directly 
opposite the queer, dark objects. By opening this window 
and using a pair of tongs, Mr Dunlop very soon discovered 
that the objects were a pair of strong, square-toed blucher 
boots. On taking them into the study with him, the ministei 
found that they were still warm inside, as if a pair of feet had 
been not many moments out of them, and as the toes had been 
pointing towards the back of the house, Mr Dunlop's prompt 
suspicion was that the owner had clambered up on to the wall 
by means of the iron railing, and then, seeing the light in the 
study window, and fearing to make a noise in passing, he had 
quietly slipped off the boots, and thus crossed the rubicon in 
safety. Mr Dunlop was both lenient and good-humoured, and 
would probably have winked at a servant having a sweetheart 
or follower, but this way of entering the house could not be 
tolerated. Indeed, for aught he knew, the owner of the boots 
might be no follower, but a housebreaker; so shutting up the 
boots in his study, Mr Dunlop went straight to the kitchen — at 
least he meant to go there, but was pulled up by hearing 
whispered words in the servant's room on the landing above. 
A sharp rap on the door elicited a sudden scream from within, 
and, throwing open the door, the minister was just in time to 
see a figure vanish with extraordinary speed through the 
window and on to the top of the wall. Of course, Marion 
M'Queen, the servant, immediately fell into tears, and went 
down on her knees, protesting that it was entirely against her 
orders that the man had come to see her, and made his way in 
in such a strange fashion. Her master was really more amused 
than angry, but he nevertheless read her a severe lecture, and 
finally promised not to speak about it to her mistress, upon 
Marion promising never again to offend in the same way. 



26 THE SQUARE-TOED BLUCHERS. 

A little to his surprise, however, this leniency on his part did 
not console her or stop her tears. The girl appeared more 
distressed than ever at the mention of her mistress; and at 
length Mr Dunlop, remembering his queer fishing with the 
tongs from the window, said — 

" Oh, I suppose it's your sweetheart's boots you're distressed 
about ? Well, you can tell him he'll get his boots if he comes 
to me for them himself." 

For a moment the girl looked stupidly at him, and then he 
found that she knew nothing of the boots, and had not even 
noticed that her lover had left them outside. Clearly, then, 
this could not be the cause of her distress ; but what that was 
Mr Dunlop had no chance of discovering till next day, when 
his wife startled him by saying that one of her finger rings had 
been stolen. The gem was not a very valuable one, but it had 
been her engagement ring, and the minister's wife declared 
that she not only valued it above all she possessed, but took 
such care of it that it could not possibly have gone amissing by 
accident, or without thievish fingers. The servant of course 
was questioned, but she firmly declared that she knew nothing 
of it. The minister looked grave, and thought of the square- 
toed bluchers lying unclaimed in his study; and after a vain 
attempt to laugh the loss over, at last consented that the police 
should be called in. I was sent out, and from the manner of 
the servant and her master, I was inclined to believe that they 
both knew something of the ring. Mr Dunlop still kept his 
pledge to the girl by saying nothing of the bluchers or their 
owner to me, and I went away not much the wiser of their 
evidence. A day or two after, however, I was in a pawnshop 
out near Fountainbridge, looking over a number of pledges in 
search of a scarf pin, when I came upon a gold ring, set with 
pearls and rubies, which had been only a day in the place. 

There are so many rings of this pattern made that I did not 
expect anything from that, till I noticed that one of the smaller 
stones was gone. The stolen ring was thus described, and with 
more interest I asked who had pawned it. The man could only 
remember that it was a woman, and not a very old one, but, 
on referring to the books, I was petrified to find the name 
" Marion M'Queen." 

The address was a false one, it is true, but there was the 
name staring me in the face in black and white. Still I would 
not be rash; and, taking the ring with me, I went out to the 
manse, and showed it to Mrs Dunlop, who identified it beyond 



THE SQUARE-TOED BLUCHERS. 27 

all doubt as her lost ring. Now, here was a grave position for 
the girl, and I would have arrested her upon the spot but for 
the minister's interposition. He now told me the adventure of 
the boots, placed the square-toed bluchers in my hand, and firmly 
gave it as his opinion that the owner of the boots, and not poor 
Marion, would be found to be the thief of the ring, and ended with 
the modest request that I should first have a hunt for the man. 
I could not quite see things in that light, and went down to the 
kitchen and scared all the blood from Marion's face by saying, 
sternly — 

" I find, after all, Marion, that I'll have to take you to prison 
for stealing that ring which you pawned out near the Fountain- 
bridge." 

She dropped the dish in her hand, and it was smashed 
unheeded on the floor, and then burst into tears with the 
exclamation — 

" I never pawned it, and I never stole it, but it was ta'en off 
my finger by force." 
"By whom?" 

A dead silence, except in sobbing. 

" Was it your sweetheart? — the man who left his boots with 
Mr Dunlop?" 

" Yes. I put on the mistress's brooch and the ring, thinking 
no harm, and meaning to put them back before she came in; 
but Bauldie saw the ring whenever he came in, aud fought till 
he got it off my finger and on his ain. Then the minister 
came in before I got it back, and he gaed away sae quick that 
I hadna time to ask it." 
"Where does he live?" 
" I don't know." 
"What does he do?" 
" I think he's a flesher." 

This was all she did know, and it was not quite enough, for, 
as it turned out, Bauldie was not a flesher, but only a porter 
engaged in carrying meat from the slaughter-house. Still, in 
the belief that he was a flesher, I went out to the slaughter- 
house with the square-toed bluchers wrapped in paper under 
my arm, as soon as I had seen Marion safely under lock and 
key. I did not trouble to ask for any one of that name, as I 
mistakenly believed that it was a fictitious one; but I did, in the 
absence of any description of his face or form, look very keenly 
at every pair of feet in and about the place. I was two hours 
out at the place, and had made absolutely no progress, when 1 



28 THE SQUARE-TOED BLUCHERS. 

noticed a group of porters near the entrance, smoking and 
joking in a rough fashion. I did not join the group, but from 
a little distance scanned their feet and boots most eagerly. 
There was but one tolerably young man among them, and he 
wore bluchers, which, so far as I could judge, were not unlike 
the pair I carried. It was a mere venture on my part, but I 
resolved to tackle the owner of the bluchers, and approached 
the group. As I did so, one of them recognised me and said — 

"Eh, Bauldie, there's M'Govan, the fief-catcher;" adding 
some query to me regarding the parcel under my arm, which 
he pretended to believe I was stealing. 

The man addressed as Bauldie was moving off very quietly, 
when I stopped him with the words — 

"Wait a moment; I want to show you a bargain — a pair of 
boots I want to get rid of cheap." 

A hoarse laugh greeted the speech, and I unrolled the 
square-toed bluchers, and shoved one of them into the not very 
willing grasp of Bauldie, whose face was a curious study. He 
was half-frightened and half-doubtful as to whether I had any 
suspicion of him, though his face, as his eye became riveted to 
the boot, became very much less bloated and red. 

" Hoo much are ye wanting for the buits?" he asked at 
length, with a manifest effort. 

'• That's the curious thing," I laughingly answered. " I 
don't want anything for them. If they fit you, you're welcome 
to them. Try them on." 

Every one laughed louder; but Bauldie could not see the 
joke, and instead of obeying me and taking the urgent advice 
of his companions, he tossed down the boot and turned to 
leave, saying it was time he was going. 

"Stop!" I said, more sternly, and riveting my hand on his 
arm; "you must try on these boots, or try on my hand-cuffs! 
Come, now; which will you have?" 

He chose the boots, and, amid much chaffing, put them on, 
when they appeared to fit perfectly. I fastened the laces and 
picked up the old ones he had thrown off, saying coolly — 

" They appear to fit you so well that you may as well keep 
them on till you walk to the Office with me." 

He obeyed without a word, much to the surprise of his com- 
panions, and I thought I had got to the end of the case; more 
especially when Marion promptly identified him as her lover 
and the thief of the ring. But all the way to the Office Bauldie 
had remained silent and thoughtful. He had been occupied, 



THE SQUARE-TOED BLUCHERS. 29 

no doubt, in a careful calculation as to how far he was really 
involved, and looked almost cheerful when he was identified. 
Then, when the charge was explained to him, he gave us the 
result of his cogitations. 

" I never saw the buits afore," he said, in allusion to the 
square-toed bluchers with which I had fitted him, " and they're 
nae mair mine than they're Maister M'Govan's. I've seen the 
lassie afore, I admit, but I wasna in her hoose last Friday 
nicht, and I never took a ring off her finger nor saw her wear- 
ing ane. I ken naething aboot the ring, and can prove that I 
was twa mile away at the time." 

To this statement, in spite of every appeal from the poor 
servant girl, he adhered most tenaciously, and even got some 
boon companions with whom he had been drinking on the 
Friday — -most probably after losing his boots — to come forward 
and prove an alibi. What helped him, no doubt, was the fact 
that the minister had been so absorbed in his studies that he 
had but a vague idea of the hour at which the boots came into 
his hands and the owner took flight; and as Bauldie had in all 
probability got a young woman to pawn the ring, and give with 
it the name of Marion M'Queen, it is not surprising that the 
pawnbroker's assistant, when shown the tearful prisoner, said 
he thought it was she. On the whole, the case went strongly 
against Marion, and her very admissions to me, truthful though 
they doubtless were, helped to rivet the guilt upon her. She 
was convicted of stealing the ring, and sentenced to three 
months' imprisonment, while the charge against Bauldie was 
found "not proven," and he was discharged. As Bauldie per- 
sisted in refusing the square-toed bluchers, and the minister 
had no use for them, they remained with us; and more than 
once, as I came upon them in turning over the strange collec- 
tion of rubbish which steadily accumulates in our hands, I 
thought of poor Marion suffering, as I believed, innocently in 
prison, while her selfish betrayer stalked about in impunity, 
and I longed heartily for a chance to pay him back for that, 
and for the clean slip he had made through my fingers. He 
was a coarse, brutal fellow, and one was puzzled to think what 
a smart lassie like Marion could have seen in him to admire; 
but women have their own taste in these matters. 

As yet, however, as the reader has seen, Bauldie was not one 
of my " bairns," or a recognised criminal. He was merely one 
of the buzzing moths I have so often spoken of circling the 
flame, and longing to get at the beautiful star before them; but 



30 THE SQUARE-TOED BLULHEkb 

he had been successful, and there lay my hope. I felt sure I 
should hear of him again. 

Some time after the ring affair, a house at Newington was 
coolly entered one night while the family were asleep, by the 
dining-room window being lifted from without. It is possible 
that a haul might have been made, but the master of the house 
chanced to be wakeful that night, and hearing what he thought 
was a cat wandering about below, he got up, thinking some of 
the windows had been left open, and intending to chase the 
brute out again. With only his slippers and a dressing-gown 
on, he went downstairs crying " Shoo! shoo!" as he went, and 
the cat, a tall, buirdly man, at once took flight, and vanished 
through the dining-room window to the open air. So softly 
had the man run, that he was gone almost before the gentleman 
had realised the situation, and then he was quite sure that the 
man was on his stocking soles, a suspicion which I readily con- 
firmed next morning on examining the ground in front of the 
house. There had been two engaged in the affair, but one 
only, so far as I could guess, had gone inside; and from some 
deep footprints immediately before the dining-room window, I 
was of opinion that he had there removed his boots and left 
them, while his companion had watched at the garden gate 
to give warning of the approach of any policeman. 

In leaving the house and garden he had only had time to 
lift his boots and run, and so had left the imprint of his big 
stockinged feet on the soft mould nearly all the way to the 
gate. He did not like the knubbly gravel of the walk, I 
suppose, and so left his marks for my guidance. 

Now, though every housebreaker at work moves through the 
house noiseless as a cat, it is not usual for him to leave his 
boots outside. This seemed to me to mark the novice, and 
having had Bauldie so recently through my fingers, I thought 
of him, and carried the square-toed bluchers out to the house 
to fit them to the marks. They matched very well in size and 
shape, and my next task was to fish out Bauldie's address. 
He had not been much about the slaughter-house of late, but 
at length I found a lad who knew the place, but not the 
number, and got him to conduct me to a house in Lady 
Lawson's Wynd. Here he pointed out a window on the slates, 
which he said was that of the room in which Bauldie and his 
mother lived. 

I saw the window, and in front of it hanging from a string a 
pair of coarse worsted socks. 



THE SQUARE-TOED BLUCHERS. 31 

" Oho !" was my mental exclamation. " I am too late, then, 
and he has had his socks washed?" 

Up I went and tackled the mother, for Bauldie, of course, 
was out. I have no doubt she guessed my occupation at a 
glance, for she instantly became wary in her words. She had 
been washing — ou ay; and she had nae particular time for 
washing — sometimes one day and sometimes another. No, it 
wasn't uncommon for her to wash only one pair of socks at a 
time; she had not many more to wash; and so on. More than 
that, Bauldie had been home only the night before, and had 
slept like a top the whole night through. I had expected that, 
too. The woman's trembling eagerness; her hungry watching 
of my face as I listened; and her whole demeanour, told me 
the old, old story of a mother willing to lie, sin, steal, suffer, or 
die for her offspring. I wanted to see Bauldie's boots, but he 
had only one pair, and they were out with him; so I soon left 
the house. At the foot of the wynd I met him full in the face, 
and he was about to dive past when I stopped him. 

"Why are you in such a hurry, Bauldie?" I began. "Not 
been after any mischief, eh?" 

I did not expect him to say he had, and was not disap- 
pointed. 

" Sit down on that step a minute, and off with your boots," 
I continued, with a less playful look. " I've been up to the 
house and seen your socks — newly washed, curiously enough, 
though it's near the end of the week. ' They that wash on 
Saturday, oh, they are sluts indeed' — you know the old rhyme." 

He squatted down and whipped off his boots — which, as I 
had expected, were square-toed bluchers; but he did it too 
promptly and confidently to please me. I pickcvl up the first 
he threw off and looked inside, and then understood his con- 
fident smile. The boots had been rinsed out with water, too, 
before being put on, and were as free of earthy or muddy traces 
as the clean-washed socks I had taken from the window line. 

I was done, and he knew it; but nevertheless I gravely told 
him to put on his boots and come with me. We kept him for a 
day or two on suspicion, while I tried to trace his companion, 
but at last he was let off. As he was leaving, I said to him — 

" The third time's lucky, Bauldie; put it off as long as you 
can, for I'm afraid I'll nip you." 

" Will you? You'll be clever, then," was his defiant remark, 
given with some words which need not be translated, and so 
we parted. To have begun preaching to him, or attempting to 



3 2 THE SQUARE-TOED BLUCHERS. 

advise him against the life he was entering upon, would have 
been throwing pearls before a very thick-headed swine indeed. 

So the square-toed bluchers went back to limbo again, and 
I thought I had got all out of them I was likely to get, and 
that, after being twice nearly nipped, Bauldie would be careful 
ever after. But it is possible that the clue I had worked upon 
in both cases had not struck Bauldie himself nearly so forcibly 
as it had done me — at all events, I was soon hauling out the 
boots for comparison, and that in connection with a case more 
serious than any he had tried. 

A house at a lonely part of Stockbridge, which was empty of 
its owners at the time, had been broken into one Sunday, and 
a great quantity of valuables carried off. The house was what 
is called semi-detached, and I suppose the fear of being heard 
in the next house had caused at least one of the thieves to 
remove his boots while at work. The men seemed to have 
spent the whole day in the place, and yet to have been scared 
in some way before leaving the building at night, for one 
bundle of things was left near an open window, and close by 
the bundle — what could be more suggestive? — a pair of square- 
toed blucher boots! When I saw the bluchers I thought of 
Bauldie; and when I found them the exact size and shape of 
those already in our possession, down to the very bulge of his 
big toe joint, I could scarcely believe my good fortune. If he 
had been able to write, and had chalked down " Bauldie" in 
capitals beside the bundle, I could not have been more agree- 
ably surprised. I went out very smartly to Lady Lawson's 
Wynd, but I found that his mother had given up the room and 
gone into the Poor-house, and the son now lived nobody knew 
where. I had seen him more than once in company with a 
thief named Coskey, and I knew Coskey's den, so thither I 
went, and found Coskey, who put on his clothes and came 
with me without a word. While I was taking Coskey to the 
Office, fastened by one hand to my wrist, I thought I heard 
something rattle on the street behind us, and, suspecting he 
had thrown something away, stopped and found only a little 
brass padlock, such as you may buy for 6d. in any iron- 
monger's. I could not understand his anxiety to get rid of 
such a thing, but when it was identified as having been 
wrenched from a tin cash-box in the house at Stockbridge, I 
quite appreciated his unsuccessful attempt. 

I had no trace whatever of the plunder as yet, and Bauldie 
was invisible. At last I reasoned that he would likely have a 



THE SQUARE-TOED BLUCHERS. 33 

lodging in the quarter most familiar to him, and least likely to 
be searched by me — namely, the vicinity of Lady Lawson's 
Wynd. I went slowly over every boot-shop in the West Port, 
and at length discovered one which had sent out a " sight," as 
they called it, of men's boots — still the fatal square-toed 
bluchers. I was very speedily conducted to the house, which 
was close by; but Bauldie had heard my voice, and gone out 
by the window, and escaped through a tanner's yard in the 
direction of the Castle Road — boots and all this time. I let 
him go in the meantime, and turned my attention to the room 
he had so suddenly vacated. It was summer time, and there 
was, instead of a fire in the grate, a flimsy ornament of tissue 
paper. On this there were traces of soot droppings. I pulled 
it down ruthlessly, and thrusting up my arm as far as I could 
reach, just touched and no more a bundle wedged into the 
chimney. A hooked stick brought down the bundle, which 
turned out to be a number of plated articles taken from the 
house at Stockbridge, and which had not found a ready 
market with the fence whose melting-pot had swallowed the 
rest of the plunder. I was now doubly anxious to get hold of 
Bauldie, but I did not hunt much for him all day. I had 
studied the style of his actions, and found that there was not 
much variety or power of invention displayed in them. I had 
no doubt that after the first tearing rush away from my clutches, 
he would get quietly out of town, and there his race would 
end. His safety lay in getting as far from Edinburgh as 
possible, but I did not expect him to understand that. His 
greatest danger, some would have thought, lay in being near 
his old home, yet there I had surprised him. What more 
likely, then, that at nightfall he would creep back again, and 
get into hiding in some place unlikely to be searched by me? 
I had already collared Coskey, and of this capture Bauldie had 
no doubt been swiftly apprised; it was scarcely likely that I 
would go back to Coskey 's den; what could be better, then, 
than to "lay up in lavender" at that lodging? Thus I fancied 
Bauldie would reason, and though I did look for him about the 
city, it was with little expectation of meeting him, and with a 
certain plan slowly maturing in my mind all the time. 
Coskey's lodging was a garret in a close in the Grassmarket, 
with a window jutting out on the roof. This part of the roof 
could be seen from the top of the close, and at that spot I 
planted M'Sweeny, with orders to keep moving, and not attract 
notice. As for me, I got up on the roof of the next house as 
s. c. c 



34 THE SQUARE-TOED BLUCHERS. 

soon as it was dark, and crept along till I was close to the 
window of Coskey's " kitchen." There was a good deal of 
noisy talk inside, as the house was rather " promiscuous," but 
about twelve o'clock the long-waited-for sound reached my ears 
— Bauldie's familiar tones asking for supper and a safe sleeping 
place. There was a noisy jingle after the demand, as if he had 
tossed down a sovereign, to show that he was able to pay for 
all he needed; and then I got out a lucifer match, and struck 
it as a signal to M'Sweeny to come up and guard the door. 
The answering twinkle of light came promptly, and then, after 
giving him time to get down the close, and up the stair, I 
crept down to the window, suddenly banged it up, and jumped 
in on the jaded man, amid a perfect howl of astonishment from 
all in the kitchen. 

" M'Govan, the devil!" was the cruel and ungrateful remark 
of Bauldie as I throttled him; and then, as some one officiously 
ran and opened the door, the desire for liberty got the better 
of his prudence, and he fought like a demon. What a power 
was in his big body! I was like a child in his grasp, and 
though I called on all present in the Queen's name to help me, 
I might as well have called to the wind. At last he collected 
all his strength, and hurled me backwards on the floor, making 
a dash at the same time towards the open door. At the same 
moment, however, and while the fierce shout of triumph was 
ringing from Bauldie's lips, M'Sweeny's red hair and out- 
stretched arms appeared in the doorway, and he was gripped 
and hugged with the strength of a polar bear. M'Sweeny, 
indeed, squeezed him till he was nearly breathless, and then 
slipped a whip-cord handcuff on his wrist before he had 
recovered enough to emit a howl of rage. It was the neatest 
thing I ever saw M'Sweeny do; and as he made a great bluster 
and noise, the others immediately changed their tactics and 
officiously helped me to rise. 

" The third time's lucky, Bauldie," I breathlessly remarked, 
as we led'him off. 

" How the d — 1 did you spot me ?" he savagely exclaimed. 

I was nearly letting it out in the exultation of the moment, 
but then I drew back and said — 

" Never mind now — that's a secret. I'll keep it to myself, 
in case I should need you again." 

Coskey went back to the Penitentiary, and Bau'ldie went 
with him for a seven years' sentence, without once suspecting 
that he owed it all to his Square-toed Bluchers. 



LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET. 35 



LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET. 

Lindsay, the broker, was a strange man; silent as the grav 
and curt almost to rudeness in his answers to us when duty took 
us to his dingy shop in the Cowgate, to leave a list of stolen 
articles or make other inquiries. His iron grey hair and seamed 
face, with a certain broken look in his figure, made me set down 
his age at some years above sixty ; but I am certain now that 
the estimate was ten years at least above the reality. At first 
I liked his appearance and manners so little that I made pretty 
close inquiries into his antecedents, not quite sure that he was 
worthy to leceive the broker's licence which he held. Strict as 
the authorities are, it often happens that a black sheep gets 
smuggled into the line, and then, with such a one at hand as a 
fence, petty thieving goes up at a bound. But my suspicions, 
I found, were not only groundless but unjust. Lindsay was an 
old soldier, respectable, rigidly honest, and holding the highest 
testimonials as to his worth. How, then, did such a man come 
to adopt the sl®w, retired life he led? His pension, it is true, 
was scarcely sufficient to support him, but the profits of his 
broking business seemed to me poor and dribbling to what he 
might have earned in some more active employment. Then he 
never left his shop to walk out for a breath of purer air except 
when his business forced him to it. He lived alone in the back 
part of the shop he rented, and no woman ever entered his 
home. I had been in the back room once, getting a candle 
lighted to look at some things behind his counter which he had 
just bought, and found the place neat and clean as if the 
smartest housewife had just flitted out as we entered. At 
times, I was told, Lindsay had been seen walking on the streets 
at dead of night, slowly and thoughtfully, with his head bent 
upon his breast, and an occasional muttered word rising to his 
lips; but he never looked at any one, or spoke, unless 
challenged by any of our night force. He seemed, indeed, to 
have no interest in the world or a single human being. 

How I came to learn his story — or rather how it was forced 



36 LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET. 

from him into my ear — was as singular as the history itself; but 
in giving the circumstances I will begin at the beginning, and 
let that incident appear in its proper place. 

A slight swing in Lindsay's accent had given me the idea that 
he belonged to Glasgow, but I found that he came from a 
village near Mauchline — a pretty place embowered among 
woods and rocks on the banks of the river Ayr. In this seques- 
tered spot, when but a boy, Lindsay chose for his companion a 
wild, harum-scarum lad like himself, called Peter Gauld. The 
two grew up the perfect terror of all the old wives in the village, 
so full of mischief and brimming over with wild pranks did 
they prove. They fought, too, like tigers at times, but were 
closer friends than ever after a blooded nose or two or a black- 
ened eye — after which friendly truce the village was sure to 
suffer severely. 

Every one prophesied that the " twa deevils," as they were 
called, would come to a bad end, and when they grew up to be 
lads of seventeen or eighteen the prophecies seemed to be in a 
fair way to be confirmed. Peter Gauld was jilted in love by a 
smart farming lass upon whom he had set his heart, and, telling 
the story of his wrongs in a heart-broken way to Lindsay, said 
he was going off to Glasgow to enlist or drown himself. 

" I'll go too," said Jacob Lindsay, as promptly as when they 
had been boys, and one had proposed the stripping of an apple 
tree or the scaling of a precipice for a starling's nest; and they 
went accordingly. The friends of both were in good positions; 
but when the novelty of their trip to Glasgow wore off, and 
their last shilling was spent, they neither thought of walking 
back to their native village, nor of writing home for the means 
to bring them. 

" Our money's all done," said Peter one day to his com- 
panion. " I wouldn't care to go back there again to see her 
smiling and laughing at me, and she isn't worth drowning one's 
self for; so I'm going to 'list. Maybe when she sees in the 
paper that I'm killed in battle;" and there the boy's voice 
quivered, and Jacob nodded in grave sympathy — " when she 
reads of me being shot through the head, or " 

"Or cut into a hundred bits by a shell or a cannon ball," 
tenderly suggested Jacob. 

" Yes, or run to the heart by a bayonet," dolefully pursued 
Peter, " she'll think of me and be sorry. You can come and 
see me 'list, if you like, and I'll give you enough to take you 
home out of the bounty money." 



LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET. 37 

" I'll come and see it, but I won't take any of the money," 
said Jacob. 

"Why?" 

"'Cause I'm going to 'list too," said Jacob, with the utmost 
coolness; and before night the two rather handsome and fresh- 
faced country lads were in the service of Her Majesty the 
Queen. 

The two "reprobates," as they were now called, might have 
been " bought off" twenty times over, but neither would hear 
of such an ignominious ending to their freak. Singly they 
might have been only too glad to get out of the severe life they 
had entered upon, but together they were immovable. As for 
Peter Gauld's love affair, it was forgotten in a few months, and 
in less than a year his heart had caught another flame in a 
bright-faced, bonny lass in Stirling, to which place their 
regiment had been drafted. 

" You'll tire of her in a month," said Jacob with a slight 
scowl, for the new notion of his companion robbed him of 
much of his friend's society; but he was mistaken. Peter stuck 
to his sweetheart most faithfully, and finally applied for leave 
to marry her. 

"You're going to ruin, and I've a good mind to hate you," 
was Jacob's jealous comment. 

He never bothered with sweethearts, and because he hap- 
pened to be a few minutes older than Peter, always assumed a 
dictatorial, fatherly tone when addressing his friend; but the 
hate never came, and when at last Peter obtained the tardy 
consent and married the lively and energetic " Libby," as she 
was called, Jacob's jealousy gradually wore away, till at length 
he looked upon her as a sort of sister, and swore by her, and 
would have fought for her as devotedly as Peter himself. 

A year or two after this the Crimean war began, and the two 
were drafted thither with their regiment — Libby, to their great 
joy, being one of the privileged wives allowed to go to the East 
with them. The hardships and sufferings they were facing were 
little dreamt of then; and when sickness spread through the 
troops, poor Libby, after fairly spending herself for the good of 
the sick soldiers, sank steadily, and died one night, amid the 
howling of the storm and the boom of cannon, in the arms of 
her husband and Jacob Lindsay. A torn tent sheltered the 
dying woman but imperfectly from the driving rain, and her 
last look was one of deep gratitude to Jacob, when he raised 
her only child, Little Liz, as she was called, and shielded her 



38 LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET 

from the wet in his big, grey overcoat, close to the dying 
woman. 

" I'll never forget that look," he said to me, when narrating 
the incident. "It seemed to say more than any words could 
have done; it was like • Good Jacob! kind Jacob! true friend! 
look after Little Liz. and don't forget her poor father when I'm 
gone.'" 

Poor Peter, when he fairly awoke to the knowledge that his 
faithful and hard-working wife was gone, wearily shook himself 
and said to Jacob — 

" I hope I'll be done for in the next sortie. I can't live with- 
out her, and I don't want to." 

But Jacob only put little Liz into the empty arms, and said 
bravely, with his own voice nearly choked — - 

" Don't speak like that, old fellow 1 we must think of little 
Liz." 

The prattle and winning ways of the little girl partly weaned 
the sorrowing soldier from his great loss; but from that hour 
he became a solitary and listless man, rousing to something of 
his old fire and brightness only when the call to arms rang out, 
and troops were forming to rush to the front and have hundreds 
of their numbers mown down by showering bullets and bursting 
shells. In all these expeditions and sorties and battles, Jacob 
watched his friend with a father's care, always stuck by his side, 
on duty or off, and saved him from many a danger at the risk 
of his own life. 

One morning when they ran out at the ringing blast of the 
bugle, Jacob noticed that his companion looked particularly 
bright and smiling. 

" If anything comes over me, Jacob, you'll look after little 
Liz?" he said, inquiringly. 

•• I don't think you need to ask me that," said Jacob, in an 
offended tone, and then their hands met, and they were off to 
meet the flying bullets. One of these found its man, and Jacob 
felt a worse pang than if it had gone through his own heart 
when he saw Peter reel and drop. 

" Done for at last," was all the wounded man could gurgle 
'•Poor little Liz!" 

Jacob lifted him like a child in his arms, and carried him to 
the rear; but the stony look of the blanched features, when he 
had reached the doctor's tent, told him the truth even before 
the surgeons uttered it. Peter was dead, and little Liz an 
orphan, 



LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET. 39 

As the war showed no signs of coming to a close, Jacob 
arranged a passage home to his own friends in Scotland for 
little Liz. Peter's own relations were either dead or not in- 
clined to burden themselves with the child; but Jacob's mother 
took to the forlorn child as kindly as if it had been Jacob's 
own, and, away in the secluded spot in Scotland, read all the 
news from the seat of war to her, and lists of killed and wounded, 
trembling lest she should stumble on the name they both loved. 

Shortly before the taking of Sebastopol and the close of the 
war, and while little Liz was poring over her writing or arith- 
metic in the village school in Scotland, Jacob, in returning 
from one of the sharp engagements outside the trenches, came 
on the body of a young Russian soldier — a mere boy, as he 
seemed, of sixteen or seventeen — lying on his back among the 
dead, with a bullet hole in his neck. Just below the bullet hole 
Jacob caught sight of something bright, and, stooping down, 
drew forth a small gold locket, placed there doubtless by some 
fond mother or loving sister. The locket was fair loot, and to 
have left it behind would have been only to leave it to the 
prowlers who, like jackals, crept forth as soon as the battle was 
over to strip the dead or dying. A thin chain of gold fastened 
the locket, which on the outside was engraved in the Russian 
language with the words, " God Guard the Wearer." 

Jacob had many a thoughtful study of the little trinket, and 
finally filled the glass within with a blood-stained lock of his 
dead comrade's hair, and wore it reverently on his own bosom 
under his shirt; but he little dreamt of the important part it 
was destined to play in his own history. 

The war ended, and Jacob Lindsay, after a short interval at 
home, was drafted to India and other places, but never near his 
home in Scotland. He could have left at the end of the ten 
years' service, but he wanted to earn the pension, and always 
replied to his mother's letters with the quiet intimation that he 
would serve the full time, as Scotland had no particular attrac- 
tion for him. When the twenty-one years expired and he re- 
ceived his discharge, he had only once been at his old home 
from the time when he and Peter set out for Glasgow, and 
then, as little Liz was a mere school girl, he had taken little 
notice of her. All that was to be altered now, though he was 
already almost an old man. 

About a mile and a-half from Mauchline, where the river 
flows softly along through precipitous red cliffs, crowned with 
every shade of green wood and wild flowers, stands the old 



40 LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET. 

"Brig of Ballochrayle." Jacob had written home saying he 
would come by Mauchline, and stating the exact hour when he 
should arrive; but on reaching the place found no one waiting 
to greet him, and had started to walk to his native village, when 
he was pulled up by some vivid recollection at this lovely and 
secluded spot. He was seated wearily on the parapet of the 
bridge, with a bundle at his feet, and thinking of the many 
chequered scenes through which he had passed since he and 
Peter had wandered there in the joyous freedom of boyhood, 
when a light step and a blithesome voice, caroling lightly at a 
love song, made him start round and stare at the stranger 
approaching. The dress he yet wore — the weary expression of 
his eyes, and the military cut of his face — appeared to strike the 
young girl approaching him with equal interest, for she gazed 
at him with a full, steady look of her bright and sparkling eyes, 
which at once thrilled him with a nameless pleasure. Her step 
was buoyant, her cheeks were rosy with health, and herag»not 
above eighteen; yet it was not boldness which caused her to 
gaze upon him thus, for she was really as shy and modest as 
she was pretty. Slowly she tripped past him, then paused and 
faltered back in his direction — 

"You are a soldier, aren't you?" she inquiringly said, as he, 
from force of habit as much as anything, touched his hat in a 
military salute. 

Something in her tone, resembling that of a woman he had 
known and listened to twenty years before, more than her 
features or age, prompted him to the joyous, smiling reply — 

" I am; and you are not — not little Liz?" 

"I'm Liz without the 'little,'" she eagerly returned, springing 
forward and almost clapping her hands with joy. " You must 
be dear, dear Jacob?" 

t; I am !" and with a swoop he lifted her right up in his arms, 
as he had done a thousand times when she was a child, seated 
her on the stone parapet beside him, and saluted her in a way 
not exclusively military. 

Nor did little Liz make the slightest demur or objection. 
She nestled into his grey overcoat as confidingly and lovingly 
as she had done in childhood, and looked up at his kind, brown 
eyes with all the artless glee of a child recovering a father or a 
brother. 

"I thought you were a young lady, instead of my little Liz," 
he said, after a little, " you looked so pretty and bright. Don't 
you know you're grown beautiful?" 



LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET 41 

" And I made sure it couldn't be you, for I thought you 
were an old grey-headed man," she as frankly responded, with 
her cheek leaning on his shoulder. " I wasn't sure but you 
might be wasted and wounded, but you're quite young and 
handsome. How proud they will all be at the village to see 
you, and welcome you back; and they've cause, for there isn't 
a braver in Scotland." 

Jacob felt no more weariness then. Supported by Liz's 
strong arm he walked the remaining miles to his native place 
with a lighter step than he had shown for many a day. When 
just outside the village, with Liz carrying his bundle under one 
arm, while she supported him with the other, he was surprised 
to see quite a crowd of people gathered at the top of the road. 
The whole village seemed to have dropped work, and to be 
awaiting the arrival of some great man. And when the two 
slow travellers appeared, Jacob saw many of the hats and caps 
taken off and waved in the air, and heard a cheer ring out which 
caused him to start in wonderment and surprise. 

" It's you they're welcoming, dear Jacob," said Liz, with her 
eyes sparkling with joy and emotion. " And hark ! there's the 
guns going off — that's all for you. Hear how they shout ! oh, 
how happy it makes me ! and they've done it all of their own 
accord. Don't tremble and turn pale, dear Jacob — I'll support 
you up the hill — I could carry you, even, if you wanted — for 
it's an honour you've won with bravery and goodness." 

Jacob had never been a demonstrative man — deep natures 
seldom are — and he appeared to cower more before the glad 
shouts and joyous hand-shakings of his old village cronies than 
he had ever done before the bayonets and bullets of the enemy. 
He was glad when the excitement of his arrival and welcome 
was over; and after a few weeks he arranged to accept a post 
of trust offered him in a factory a few miles off. 

Every one said that there could be but one result of Jacob's 
constant intercourse with the sprightly and affectionate Liz, and 
for once every one was right. Jacob's mother waxed feeble and 
old, and shortly before she did pass away whispered something 
to both her supporters to which they tremulously assented; and 
six months after the grave had been closed on her, Liz and Jacob 
were wife and husband. The marriage was a very quiet affair, 
but the moment it was concluded, those present saw the hand- 
some and not very old soldier unfasten a little chain from his own 
neck and draw forth a gold locket, which he reverently fastened 
on the bride, with a strange agitation and eyes moist with tears. 



42 LITTLE LIZS LOCKET. 

" God guard the wearer!" he whispered, opening the locket 
and showing a lock of matted brown hair within. " It was his, 
dearest Liz — my comrade and your father— I cut it from his 
bleeding head when I carried him from the field. God guard 
the wearer!" and a single tear fell from the eyes of the young 
bride in response to the prayer. 

My story should end there, with the bride in her beauty, and 
fouth, and innocence shedding a tear over her father's memory, 
the quiet circle of friends eagerly congratulating the new 
married pair, and Jacob settled steadily and prosperously at his 
new work. Why should not everything be happy and joyous, 
without trials, or tears, or blighted hopes? I know not why; 
but I do know that in going on I am giving not fiction but truth. 

Before marriage Liz had been the belle of the district, with 
more sweethearts sighing in her wake than she well knew how 
to evade or shake off. A gay gathering was incomplete with- 
out pretty Liz; and the most jealous of her sex had to admit 
that in dancing she was in grace and neatness queen of them 
all. After marriage Jacob put no restraint or restriction upon 
her. He treated her as a father might treat a child, indulging 
her in every wish, and letting her go whither she listed. Then, 
while he was deep in his duties at the factory, which swallowed 
almost every moment of his time, people began to whisper and 
shake their heads, and the only one who never heard the 
whispers or saw the heads wagging was poor Jacob Lindsay. 
His mother had given him her little savings, carefully tied up 
in an old stocking; and these Jacob, in turn, had made over to 
Liz, to keep till they should perhaps move into Glasgow and 
begin business of some kind. 

One Saturday night Jacob returned to his cottage after an 
absence of two days at the factory, and was surprised to find 
the windows darkened. He tried the door and found it locked, 
and presently was joined by a neighbour woman, who gravely 
and pityingly handed him the key, saying — 

" I got that frae Mrs Lindsay to gie to you." 

" Is she away anywhere?" said Jacob simply, thinking of 
Saturday's shopping in the village. 

"Yes, she gaed awa' this morning" — then the woman stopped 
short, and Jacob in surprise saw several other neighbours creep 
forward, all with the same grave and pitying look directed to 
himself. 

" Is there anything wrong?" he cried at last. "Speak out, 
woman, and let me know it all." 



LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET. 43 

" A guid deal wrang," slowly answered another of the group. 
" They say that Liz has run awa' wi' her auld sweetheart, Bob 
Johnston, the publican's son." 

Many men would have reeled at the news. Jacob only 
became more erect, more rigid-featured, more iron-like in 
firmness 

" They say? who says it?" he asked at last, in a voice with- 
out a quiver, but strangely unlike his usual tones. 

" Them that saw her gang awa'," said the man, with deep 
sympathy; and all the others gravely confirmed the news, even 
adding particulars — as if his heart had not been already stabbed 
through and through. 

Jacob unlocked the door and walked into the house — the 
neighbours peeping fearfully in after him. Then he struck a 
light and looked round on the disordered place, and finally 
went to a drawer, which he opened. Liz's bank-book, contain- 
ing the careful savings of Jacob's mother, was gone. A gold 
watch, given to Jacob by an officer in recognition of a great 
service done him in battle, was also gone, as well as several 
other valuables equally prized by the owner. There was no 
message left — what message could a woman leave under such 
circumstances? — nothing but the dark, deserted home and 
empty drawers. 

Jacob neither stormed, nor wept, nor uttered a groan or a 
word. He simply sat down and leant his head on his hand, 
looking wearily and with apparent calmness at his neighbours 
as they slowly ventured in to console or advise. He was struck 
full in the heart, and was dumb. 

They told him how the runaways had gone to Glasgow, and 
would probably be found taking passage in one of the liners 
for America, and strongly urged him to follow at once and 
recover what he had lost; but Jacob heard all in silence, and 
finally asked them all, with the utmost calmness, to leave the 
house and tell him no more. 

They obeyed precipitately, thinking him half-crazed, and 
kept creeping back to the door and peeping in at the window 
in anticipation of some fearful tragedy; but they always found 
him seated at the table, leaning his head on his hand, and look- 
ing steadily before him with dry eyes. The candle burned 
down and went out, and moonlight took its place, but Jacob 
never stirred from his chair. The dawn of the Sabbath morn- 
ing found him there, and when he moved it was only to put up 
a screen at the window to keep out prying eyes. The truth 



44 LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET 

was that he had been fighting with himself as he had never 
fought in the bloodiest battle. He knew where the runaways 
might be found; he had a gun in his possession, and had used 
it to slay hundreds before; killing human beings was not the 
same to him as to ordinary men, and he knew that to see the 
runaways would be simply to doom them to death. 

" I should forget everything, if I but looked on them," he 
thought for the hundredth time. " And even Liz would die 
before I knew what I had done — God give me power to save 
myself and them." 

That was his struggle and his prayer, and his desperate fight. 
How the victory was won none but himself and his God ever 
knew; but next day he arranged for the sale of every article in 
the house, and went away, no one knew whither. 

" I must bury myself — shut myself up somewhere out of 
sight, where no one will know me or my story, or attempt to 
pity me, and where I am sure never to meet her" was his 
thought; and he vanished from the village, leaving not a trace 
of his whereabouts, and saying not a word to any one as to his 
intentions. He was poor now, without a situation or anything 
to depend on but his meagre pension; but that he considered 
a trifle compared with what might have happened had he over- 
taken the runaways and got back his own. 

" It must have been Johnston that was the robber," he always 
insisted. " Liz might be weak, or whatever people might call 
her, but she never could be a thief." 

So, after various changes and struggles, Jacob Lindsay landed 
in Edinburgh, and became known to me as an eccentric and 
somewhat surly broker. He did not push his trade, and never 
condescended to argue or haggle. If a customer appeared, he 
was told the price of the article he wished, and if that did not 
suit him it was put away without a word ; and in the same way, 
when anything was offered for sale, Lindsay — whose knocking 
about had sharpened his business faculties — knew almost at a 
glance what the article would bring, stated his terms, and if 
refused, curtly ordered the seller out of his shop. 

For some years after he appeared in Edinburgh, his life ran 
its slow course in this way, till the incident occurred which 
brought me to know his story. One evening in the winter, 
when other shops in the Cowgate were all lighted up, but 
Lindsay's, in rigid economy or indifference, was dark, a woman, 
with a shawl oyer her head, and so many rags about her person 
that the wonder was how they held together, timidly crept into 



LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET. 45 

the dark shop and knocked on the counter. There was a light 
in the back room, the door of which was ajar, but Lindsay was 
at his dinner, or tea, or whatever he called the meal, and sat 
on undisturbed till the whim suited him to respond. The 
woman knocked again, and at last, with a frown on his brow, 
Lindsay appeared. 

He did not look at her face — he had no interest in faces, 
and seldom noted their features; but something in her accent 
caught his ear like a sudden strain of sweet music. She came 
from the west, and that knowledge roused memories of happier 
days. The frown left his brow, and he took the article offered 
into his hand. 

" How much can you give me for it — it is gold, and I am a 
stranger here, and poor — very, very poor;" and the haggard 
look and perpetual shiver which seemed to shake her hands 
and limbs confirmed her words. 

" Some drunken jade wanting a dram," was his thought as 
he turned the article to the light streaming from the back room. 

Then he started back with both hands clenched, and his 
eyes almost starting from their sockets, as he read the inscrip- 
tion on the gold locket which had been placed in his hands. 

"God guard the wearer! Mine! mine when I was 
married!" he shouted aloud, with an agitation he had never 
exhibited since he entered the city. " Woman, where got 
you this locket?" 

He looked up as he hurled forth the impassioned query, but 
with a low cry like a gasping sob, the shadow had dived out 
the shop and vanished, and he was looking on darkness and 
empty space. With one bound he was over the counter and 
out into the open street, where, with the trinket in his hand, he 
rushed hither and thither through wynds, and closes, and 
entries, bareheaded and heedless of jeering remarks from 
spectators; but his search was vain, and he found no trace of 
the wretched woman. 

An hour or two later he appeared at my house, having been 
directed thither from the Central Office, so excited and eager 
that I thought he had gone mad. 

" I did not think mortal man would ever have heard my 
story," he all but groaned ; and then he showed me the locket, 
and told me all I have put down, and a deal more. There 
could be no doubt about the identity of the trinket; for though 
the lock of hair had been removed, the tell-tale words, in Russian, 
still showed sharply on the back. The only question was 



46 LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET. 

where was the owner, and who was she ? Lindsay was hopeful 
that she might be his lost Liz; I was doubtful, and said so, but 
agreed to try to trace her. And how did I set about it? 

The appearance of the waif was that of a debased and shiver- 
ing wretch longing for whisky. I tried every public-house for a 
wide circle round the spot where she had appeared. But I 
found no satisfactory trace of her — ragged women like her were 
common at them all, and though they came often, left no trace 
of their dwelling-place behind them. Other means I tried, also 
in vain, and then Lindsay in desperation said — 

" I'll give you every shilling I possess to find her if she is my 
poor Liz, and I won't shoot her or lay a finger on her — I swear 
that. I have grown away from that." 

Again I answered him that no such sacrifice was necessary. 
Then I thought of another aspect of the case. The woman 
must have been in urgent need of money x or she would never 
have decided to part with such an article — perhaps she had 
some one in want or illness to think of — I would try the 
chemists' shops. I did so, and came on the true clue almost 
at once. A woman answering the description came to the 
shop regularly to buy laudanum ; to procure this drug she had 
produced a medical line, which testified that " Elizabeth John- 
ston " required to use laudanum constantly, and might be 
supplied in safety. The address of the patient followed, and 
thither I turned my steps, with Lindsay moving with ill-restrained 
swiftness by my side. When we got to the land and the door, 
I asked for a girl of the name given above, but the coarse land- 
lady, if I may so name her, only said — 

" Oh, he means that Glasgow girl, Liz, in the far-off room — 
tell her M Govan wants her." 

I hastened to say that I did not want her, and led Lindsay 
to her room, opened the door for him, and then closed it on 
him, and stood sentry outside. Instantly there rang out a 
scream — prolonged and awful, and dreadful enough to rouse 
even that callous houseful; then there was sobbing and crying, 
and expostulating in the low tones of Lindsay himself, and 
finally he appeared with a limp and senseless woman in his 
arms, her thin face gleaming so whitely in the dim lobby that I 
thought her dead. 

" It's little Liz — my Liz," he whispered to me. " I will take 
her away from here. If I cannot be her husband — I can at 
least be her father." 

She seemed a mere child's weight in his arms — a tiny, pretty 



LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET. 47 

girl still, with the stamp of sin struggling almost in vain with 
the childish innocence which had so long dwelt in her sweet 
face; and he got leave to bear her off unquestioned. 

After that the broker's shop was closed, and Lindsay was 
nursing a sick woman fighting with delirium and feve* in the 
room at the back. Liz might have recovered, and did recover 
so far; but the want of what she thought a sufficient supply of 
laudanum one night drove her out thinly clad to the nearest 
chemist's. Lindsay followed in alarm the moment he missed 
her, and found her in the act of swallowing it, and covered her 
up and bore her home in haste; but the chill had reached her 
lungs, and in two days she was raving in delirium and on the 
borders of shadowland. For long days and weary nights Lind- 
say nursed her unceasingly, never leaving her bedside, sparing 
no pains to gratify her every wish, and thinking of nothing but 
how to fight off death. At last her slumber became more 
tranquil and still, smiles dwelt on her face in place of frowns 
and looks of anguish, and Lindsay thought the crisis was past. 
But the doctor, when he appeared, only looked gravely at the 
sleeping woman, ordered nothing, said nothing, and silently 
took leave. Liz slept on far into the night, muttering and 
murmuring. Towards morning she opened her eyes, smiling 
brightly, but evidently seeing little that was near her. 

"Oh, and you must be dear, dear Jacob?" she joyfully 
exclaimed. " I thought you were an old, grey-headed man, 
but you're quite young and handsome. How proud they will 
all be at the village to welcome you back; and they've cause, 
for there isn't a braver in Scotland." 

" Hush, Liz ! dear child, try to sleep — you're not well," 
chokingly ejaculated Lindsay, remembering with a pang the 
scene of their meeting at the Brig of Ballochmyle. 

" Who could think of sleep when they knew you were coming 
home?" persisted the delirious girl. " Do you see them at the 
top of the road? It's you they're welcoming, dear Jacob — 
and hark! there's the guns going off — that's all for you. Oh : 
how happy it makes me, for it's an honour you deserve, and 
have won with bravery and goodness." 

A shivering sob struggled from the breast of the eager 
listener, while tears, the first that had crossed his eyes since he 
found her, trickled from his cheek and dropped on her restless 
hands. 

"Yes, Jacob, dear — it is father's — God guard the wearer," 
she softly whispered, at the touch of the hot tears; but then 



48 LITTLE LIZ'S LOCKET. 

her smiles left her, and he had a long and hard struggle to 
keep her from leaving the bed and the house. Towards morn- 
ing she got quieter, and for one brief moment looked at him 
with some intelligence in her eyes. 

"You're like Jacob, but he was not grey, and wasted, and 
old," she said. " Oh, I'm weary, weary — I wish he would come." 
Then her eyes drooped, and in an hour more she had slumbered 
into the silent land. 

When Liz was buried, Lindsay alone was at the burial. He 
asked sympathy from none, and even seemed to shun me, who 
knew the story of his life. Just once, at dead of night, I met 
him on the streets, when he laid a strong hand on my arm, and 
said, in answer to my kindly question — 

"Afraid I suffer? I do suffer. I want to die and be at rest. 
I would take my own life without a pang, if I thought God 
would forgive me." 

Not many months after this, one of the wretched tenements 
,it the back of his shop took fire, and the inmates fled in wild 
confusion before the flames and smoke. Lindsay got out at 
his back window, and was looking on in silence, when suddenly 
one of the half-naked women screamed out — 

"Oh, where is my bairn? You've forgotten my wee Lizzie! 
She's left in the house: she'll be burned alive!" 

The distracted mother would have rushed into the flames 
and smoke, but some of the crowd and police held her back; 
while Lindsay, without saying a word to any one, ran into the 
burning building, and shortly appeared at one of the windows, 
and dropped a child into the eager arms outstretched to 
receive it. He ought to have appeared again in a moment or 
two, but he did not; and at last a fireman, muffled to the eyes, 
volunteered to search for him; and groping in among the smoke, 
found him prostrate on the stair, badly burned, and quite 
insensible. Lindsay was borne quick and fast to the Infirmary, 
but only spoke once after the accident. 

"Little Liz," he slowly murmured through his swollen and 
burned lips. " Lay — me — beside — little Liz." 

The attendant nurses thought he meant the child he had 
saved, and I did not trouble to correct the mistake. 



A CRACKSMAN'S RUSE. 49 



A CRACKSMAN'S RUSE. 

It is the curiosities in crime which bother us most; those in 
the plain beaten track being prosy and unromantic enough, 
and often calling for no special skill in their unravelment. If 
a man breaks into a jeweller's shop in the ordinary way, and 
carries off part of the stock, there can be no doubt as to his 
object in making the attempt, and thence by inference tracing 
the crime to the likeliest pest of the hour who happens to be 
on the surface. There is a good deal, too, to be gleaned from 
the manner in which the job is executed, most cracksmen 
having a style of their own ; but occasionally a case arises so 
incomprehensible, so far removed from the ordinary run, that 
we make the strangest blunders in the unravelment. 

When the case now before me was reported, the first question 
which arose in my mind was, " What on earth could be the 
object of a thief in breaking in there?" A lawyer's office in an 
upper flat in George Street — a simple pair of rooms containing 
nothing but an iron safe full of papers, some tin boxes, and a 
case of law books, with of course one or two desks and writing 
tables — had been in a mysterious way entered and ransacked. 
There was no money taken, from the simple fact that money 
was not kept in the place. By accident a gold watch belonging 
to the owner of the chambers, the glass of which had been 
broken the day before, had been left in one of the desks, and 
this was taken, along with an indiscriminately selected heap of 
papers, of great value to the loser, including some railway scrip 
only too easily available at its market value. Strangely enough, 
an envelope containing ^500 in bank notes, which had been 
left with the lawyer by a friend the day before, and thrust at 
the moment into the breast-pocket of his office coat, was found 
safe and untouched. The coat was rather a shabby one, and 
hung on its nail behind the door exactly as it had been left by 
its wearer the night before. So much for the plunder taken ; 
but a greater staggerer remained in the means by which the 
burglar had gained entrance. The rooms formed part of a 
s. c. r> 



50 A CRACKSMAN'S RUSE. 

whole flat, kept by a worthy couple above every suspicion, and 
were not only closed with detector locks, but also guarded by 
an outer door, which was found in the morning firmly locked 
and bolted on the inside, with the key in the lock, just as it had 
been left by the keepers before retiring to rest for the night. 
Nor did the detector locks show any signs of having been 
tampered with, though the safe had certainly been opened with 
skeleton keys, or at least keys not originally intended for the 
lock. I turned to the window, and found it to be four storeys 
off the ground, and could not believe it possible for th burglar 
to bring a ladder of that length and use it without discovery. 
This narrowed the means of entrance to a descent from the 
roof; but after an examination of the hatches I was doubtful of 
even that. They were all secured with padlocks, and all locked, 
and a burglar does not generally trouble himself to close doors 
so securely behind him. 

Such was the case as it stood, and though there was cause 
for congratulation, inasmuch as the bank notes wera safe, the 
lawyer was nearly distracted at his own losses, and p -ecipitately 
proposed to offer a reward for the return of the papers, " and 
no questions asked." I could not allow that, and merely 
counselled patience, while I tried my best to trace the stolen 
property and the skilful thief. 

In spite of the state of things left by the burglar, I for some- 
time tenaciously held in my own mind that the robber was an 
amateur, and also some one connected with the office, and 
possessing means of admittance suspected by none. Yet I 
found that by working in this belief I made absolu ely no pro- 
gress; and getting the use of a slater's ladder and ropes, 1 
ascended to the roof and made an examination from the hatch 
to the edge of the roof, with the result that I found the zinc 
rhone pipe slightly bent inwards at a spot directly above one 
of the office windows, as if a rope had been there suspended 
and heavily strained. Assuming that this had been the means 
of entrance, I promptly decided that no amateur would have 
risked his life in this way, with only the tenacity of a few strands 
of hemp to preserve him from a beautiful smash upon the pave- 
ment below. This done, I pondered as to the likeliest man 
among my own "bairns" to try such a feat, and would have at 
once plumped on "Fifty-two Tom," had the smallness of the 
stake not staggered me. It was incredible to me that this man, 
who had no lack of brute courage, as well as cunning and skill, 
and a quickness of decision that would have made his fortune 



A CRACKSMAN'S RUSE. 51 

several times over in any honest walk of life, should risk so 
much for so little. Still more puzzling was it to me how he 
should ever have gone near such a place in hope of plunder; 
but mystified as I was, I thought it could do no harm to try 
and see him, and if possible " sound " him on the point. I 
had tried others without success, and my reasons for trying 
him were that I was nearly at the end of my tether, and that I 
knew he had a liking for working a job single-handed, and thus 
being bothered with no division of profits. The very way in which 
his odd name was earned illustrates this practice of his. " Fifty- 
two" was not Tom's prison number, but the number of a shop 
in the new town, which Tom persisted in trying to break into. 
Tom tried it once, and was scared, chased, and caught, and got 
six months. Then thinking, perhaps, of Robert the Brace's 
spider and the lucky number seven, he tried it again, was 
caught, and narrowly escaped conviction. He was detained, 
and got two years on another charge, but the very week after 
his term expired, he tried No. 52 again, and this time had the 
immortal reward, in the shape of seven years' penal — another 
illustration of how perseverance and the number seven are 
eternally united. 

To " Fifty-two Tom," therefore, I turned, not very sanguine 
of success, nor at all hopeful that this very wary old bird would 
be easily caught with chaff. 

I met him in the Canongate one afternoon, strolling easily 
along with a pipe between his teeth, and he gave me a cool 
and patronising nod as was his wont. This nod always seemed 
to me to say, "Ah, you think yourself smart because you took 
me once, but try me now." I was continually trying, but not 
with great success. 

" I say, ' Fifty-two,' do you know anything of that job in 
George Street?" I suddenly asked, pulling up and watching his 
face keenly. 

A novice in crime would at once have pulled on an innocent 
or an ignorant look, and exclaimed, "What job? Never heard 
of it," &c, &c; but not so " Fifty-two." 

" Lawyer's place — lot of papers and a gold watch?" he in- 
quiringly said in his thieves' Latin, speaking with the utmost 
coolness. 

" Yes." 

" I read about it in the papers," he calmly answered. " What 
of it?" 

" You weren't in it, were you?" 



52 A CRACKSMAN'S RUSE. 

"No." 

This answer meant nothing. Whether in it or not, of course, 
I never dreamt of him saying " Yes." 

We eyed each other for a moment or two steadily, like two 
skilled fencers, each wondering what ruse or feint the other 
would next attempt. 

"Those papers are wanted badly," I at length suggestively 
remarked. " I daresay money might be given for them, if we 
could get the cracksman along with them who did the job." 

" I never betray a pal," said Tom with virtuous severity, 
after a thoughtful pause, " so even if I could spot the cove, I'd 
be the last to do it. But the papers might be got," he hastened 
to add, with some eagerness; but then I had to check him. 

" They are of no use without the thief," I coldly remarked ; 
" at least I cannot treat for them, and what's more, the lawyer, 
Mr Graham, will not treat for them either. We've taken care 
to bind him to that." 

A slight shade of disappointment, it struck me, crossed the 
face of the wary criminal as I spoke, but he affected the 
utmost indifference, coolly beginning to cut some tobacco for his 
pipe, and saying — 

" In that case, I should say they'll go into the fire very quick. 
At least, if it was me, I should do that; but one can never tell 
what some coves will try." 

" No, one can never tell," I echoed, with an unmoved 
countenance; "but if you should hear of them, you know the 
way the wind blows — money for them, and the man who did the 
job." 

I did not know it then, but I had given " Fifty-two " Tom 
subject-matter for deep thought. One more effort I made to 
get at him. 

" What a bungling stupid he must have been that did it," I 
observed, "to go and pass over ^500 in bank notes." 

"Very stupid," he said, with fierce energy and a much 
stronger word for the adjective. 

We parted there, and Tom went up the High Street, ponder- 
ing and planning and scheming over what I had said. " I 
never betray a pal," meant about as much with him as the 
"No" had meant when I asked if he had been in the robbery. 
Its real interpretation was, " As long as I'm all right with my 
chums and likely to make something out of them, they're safe; 
when I'm not, let them look out." 

Now Tom had a grievance, and he had at that very moment 



A CRACKSMAN'S RUSE. 53 

a friend, to betray whom would have given him the sincerest 
and most unqualified satisfaction. The only difficulty in the 
way was that Tom's friend did not happen to be the burglar, 
while he himself did happen to be that very individual. 
Volumes might be written on the ruptures and quarrels between 
thieves and fences; each is necessary to the existence of the 
other; but when it comes to a question of risk, the thief bears 
nearly all, and so places himself sadly at the mercy of his more 
cautious ally. 

The name of Tom's friend and fence was M'Guire, otherwise 
"Snapping Andy." Andy had earned this name from a playful 
habit he had, when in difficulties with the police, of dropping 
on the ground and snapping at their calves with his teeth 
He was well known in consequence. A knock or a bruise soon 
heals and is forgotten; but an inch or two out of one's leg is a 
more lasting souvenir. The cause of the rupture was simple. 
On the night of the robbery, and long before it was known to 
the police, " Fifty-two Tom " had called on " Snapping Andy," 
at his home and place of business in Leith Wynd, and offered 
him a gold watch, wanting the glass, for sale. It was a valuable 
watch — worth at least ^20 second-hand — and they both knew 
it, and could agree on every point but the price to be paid for 
it. After much argument on both sides, Andy paid down ^3, 
declaring that he had no more ready cash about him, but that 
he would pay the difference next day. On the following day 
" Fifty-two" called for the money, but by this time the news of 
the robbery had got abroad, and " Snapping Andy," having his 
client absolutely in his power, insisted on Tom showing him 
the stolen papers, that he might estimate their value and per- 
haps buy them. This proposal did not meet with Tom's 
approval, and they thereupon quarrelled hotly; and as a matter 
of course " Fifty-two " got no more money, but, on the contrary, 
was plainly told to be off, or he would find himself in my 
hands. 

All this was very galling, and the more so as Tom found him- 
self helpless to retaliate. He brooded over his wrongs, and 
turned things up in every possible way; but though he had no 
lack of cunning, there is a limit to the inventive powers even of 
such a rascal, and he could hit on no feasible scheme until my 
suggestive remarks gave him the clue to his course of action. 

Dropping in at " Snapping Andy's " shop, he once more 
asked if that gentleman meant to " stump up," adding, by way 
of casual news, — 



54 A CRACKSMAN'S RUSE. 

" I saw M'Govan just now, and he says there's to be a big 
sum given for them papers." 

"I knew there would be," returned Andy, with interest and 
some excitement. " If you had let me manage that business it 
would have been done by this time, and the money paid. 
Every man to his own line, you know." 

" I'd be sure to trust you after the watch business," said Tom, 
with a scowl. 

" I will pay you the rest of the price agreed on, honour bright, 
as soon as I get the money," said Andy, with great gravity. 
"What more would you have?" 

"Nothing — if you" do that, it's all I ask," said Tom scepti- 
cally; " but you don't touch the papers for all that. I have them 
put away in a safe hide, and I'm keeping an eye on the spot, 
just to make sure nobody taps my mine. They'll stand lying 
by for a bit — the price is not likely to get less by holding on to 
them for a while." 

Many protestations of honour and integrity were showered on 
him by the eager " Snapping Andy," and offers the most tempt- 
ing added if Tom would but indicate the hiding-place of the 
papers, and leave Andy to conduct the delicate negotiation with 
the owner; but to all " Fifty-two" turned a deaf ear. 

" I think I know where your hide is," at last remarked Andy 
at a venture. 

With considerable skill "Fifty-two" assumed an alarmed 
expression and cried — 

"Never! Where is it?" 

" No matter. Don't be astonished if you find them gone, 
and the whole thing arranged without you," said Andy, with a 
knowing look, and wishing to keep up the alarm. " Will you 
agree to let me work the thing out or no?" 

"No;" and with this apparently furious retort " Fifty-two " 
left the shop, with some show of concern and alarm in his cun- 
ning features. Andy watched him from the door of his den, 
and noting that " Fifty-two's " pace was much swifter and more 
business-like than usual, suspected that he had really frightened 
him, and concluded to follow him at a safe distance. 

" He's maybe off to see after his hide now. If I can get the 
least inkling where it is, I can easily work out the rest myself," 
was Andy's reflection; and as he considered himself the most 
cunning man in existence, not excepting "Fifty-two," his course 
was at once decided. Drawing on a greasy cap, and shouting 
to his wife to look after the second-hand boots and shoes which 



A CRACKSMAN'S RUSE. 55 

formed the blind to his real business, he followed " Fifty-two " 
up the High Street as far as George IV 's Bridge, and was more 
than gratified to find that his friend appeared suspicious of 
being watched and followed, and was continually looking back, 
though never as it seemed actually catching sight of the fence. 
Less cautiously he traversed the Bridge, and got to the head of 
the Meadow Walk, still apparently ignorant of the fact that he 
was being followed. It was a fine, bright afternoon, though 
late in the year, and the middle-walk was crowded with people; 
so Andy had little difficulty in keeping "Fifty-two" in sight 
without being himself seen. But when the corner of the West 
Park was reached, there came a change, for "Fifty-two" 
entered the West Park, and Andy hesitated to follow for fear 
of being detected. At that time the shrubberies of both East 
and West Parks were fenced at that part by a high, unsightly 
wooden fence, instead of the low light iron rail at present sur- 
rounding them; and as " Fifty-two " no sooner entered the park 
at the corner than he turned to cross it almost in a line with 
the middle-walk, Andy simply walked straight down the centre 
avenue, keeping a sharp eye on "Fifty-two" from behind this 
high wooden fence. When nearly across the park, " Fifty-two " 
suddenly paused within about five paces of a solitary tree which 
stands there to this day, and locking down on the greensward, 
appeared to press the turf down once or twice with his right 
foot, and then passed on, got through the fence at a turnstile 
farther on, and disappeared. 

"Got it, I believe," muttered "Snapping Andy/' and after a 
pause to allow "Fifty-two " to be well away, he left the shelter 
of the railings, and crossed boldly towards the tree. There 
were many children and others playing about, or enjoying a 
stroll in the park, and Andy was forced from motives of caution 
not to appear too curious; but he nevertheless managed to dis- 
cover what he thought was a distinct cut in the turf at the spot 
which he had seen his friend and pal press down with his foot, 
and by negligently appearing to lie down on the grass for a few 
moments, he managed to mark the spot by thrusting into it his 
own well-worn tobacco knife, and there leaving it, with the end 
of the haft just far enough out of the ground to be easily felt in 
the dark. It does not appear what " Fifty-two " was about, or 
where he was posted during this arrangement, but I have little 
doubt that he was witness to the whole proceeding from some 
adjacent coign of vantage. 

These delicate manoeuvres over, " Snapping Andy," after 



56 A CRACKSMAN'S RUSE. 



noting well the position of his knife in relation to the tree, left 
the Meadows and went straight back to his den, where he 
exultantly penned an anonymous note to Mr Graham, stating 
that he had a clue to where the stolen papers had been hidden 
by the burglar, and would return them on payment of a suitable 
ransom. This note was duly received next morning, but as I 
have now to show, it was by that time of little value. To 
understand how so much generosity was thrown away, and at 
the same time illustrate the bitter injustice which at times is 
meted out to the able and virtuous feiice, it is necessary to 
follow the movements of " Fifty-two " after so unsuspiciously 
indicating the spot where his plunder lay concealed. 

" Fifty-two " walked straight from the Meadows to my house 
and asked for me. I chanced to be at home, and left the table 
the moment I heard his voice, pretty sure of what was coming. 

" You said money was offered for them papers," he cautiously 
began. 

"Yes, with the man that did it." 

" Oh, in course, in course," he readily returned. " Well 
how, how much might they be worth, with the cove that did it?" 

I thought for a moment, eyeing him closely all the while, 
and then said — 

" Twenty pounds." 

" It's too little — it won't do," was his prompt rejoinder. 

"That's not my fault — it's not I who offer the money," I 
sharply returned. "Take it or want it." 

" I think I'll take it," he graciously concluded, after a pause 
to consider. " Just write down that I'll be paid that, and put 
your name to it, and I'll tell you all I've found out." 

" I won't. My word is as good as any paper. You must be 
content with that or nothing." 

" Fifty-two " had another grave consultation with himself, 
and knowing me well, conceded that point also. 

" I'm to get ^20 whenever the lawyer gets back his papers?" 

" Yes, if you yourself have not had a hand in the job." 

" Oh, that's settled. D'ye think I'd come and tell you all 
about it if I was the thief?" he said, with an innocent smile. 

" You're bad enough for anything," I snarled, gettingimpatient. 

"Thank you. Your opinion's worth something," he said, 
evidently highly flattered, and wishing to bestow a little subtle 
praise on me in return. 

" Out with it then — who's the man?" 

" I never betray a pal," he repeated, with all the unflinching 



A CRA CKSMAN 'S R USE. 5 7 

integrity of a bank director. "I'll tell you how you may nab 
him and the papers too, but don't ax his name nor nothing. 
Tf you get him, good and well; the job is yours, not mine — see?" 
I was trying hard to see, but not succeeding over well. 
Certain that he was dealing double, I nevertheless was far from 
understanding the whole drift of his words and revelations. 

"Well, thepapers is planked somewhere in the West Park 
of the Meadows," he at last ventured to say. " Is there a tree 
there, standing by itself near the south-east corner?" 
" There is," I answered, after a moment's thought. 
" Well, it's somewhere near that tree — how near I don't 
know; but as they're like to be lifted to-night, you can get the 
spot watched, and see the whole thing for yourself." 

"How is that to be done? Watch a spot in the middle of 
an open park ? That's a nice easy task !" 

" Oh, that's just the thing you're good at," said the sly rogue. 
" There's houses on the other side of the walk, with gardens 
before them, and there's the trees on the walk, and if you're 
particular to be close at hand, you can go up the tree itself 
and just drop on him. Ha, ha ! that's good — drop on him when 
he's lifting the plunder." 

"Have you any idea how the job was planned? I mean 
what possessed the man to break into an empty office in the 
way he did?" I asked, after a few more questions. 

" Oh, yes, I heard all about that," said " Fifty-two," with a 
beaming artlessness charming to behold. " It was the bank 
notes he was after." 

"Those that he missed? How did he know they were 
there?" 

" Oh, easy enough. He was standing at the bar down at 
the Theatre, having a glass of beer, when a couple of swells 
came in, an' began arranging how they would go out that night 
for a spree. 'But I've got ^500 on me,' says one, 'and I 
might lose it.' ' Oh, leave it with Graham till to-morrow,' says 
the other; 'he can lock it in his safe for you. Off you go, and 
I'll wait here till you come back.' He went away to George 
Street, and the clever cove as I'm a speakin' on followed him, 
and saw from a painted sign at the bottom of the stair, that 
Graham's was on the fourth flat. The swell wasn't long there, 
and then the cracksman he inspected the place, and saw that it 
could only be done from the roof." 

"But he didn't get the money after all?" 

" No, that was the d — d — I mean the blasted stupidity of 



58 A CRACKSMAN'S RUSE. 

him. And he did give the bottom pockets of the old coat a 
squeeze too, though never thinking a lawyer would be so care- 
less as put money in his breast-pocket, and leave it hanging 
there so innocent like; and there they were all the time, more's 
the — fortunate thing for the lawyer." 

"He'd felt rather bad, I suppose, at missing the prize?" I 
suggested, with a grin. 

"Bad! If it had been me, I'd a sworn myself black in the 
face," said Tom, with energy. " And it wasn't an easy job 
either. Think of the risk — if that rope had broke, there'd been 
an end of him." 

"Yes; but it would have saved me a deal of trouble, and 
been a great benefit to the world," I callously remarked — a 
sentiment from which ' Fifty-two" dissented somewhat tartly 

After some further conversation, "Fifty-two" arose to go; but 
before doing so let fall rather a curious remark. 

" I'm the only one that knows about the robbery but himself, 
and it's possible that if you nab him he may suspect, and then 
round on me out of spite." 

"Very possibly he may." 

"But you won't believe him?" he somewhat anxiously con- 
tinued. 

"Neither him nor you — the evidence must speak for itself," 
I curtly answered, and with this he had to depart content. 

It then wanted but an hour of sunset, and I had little enough 
time to make my arrangements. I sent out M'Sweeny at once 
to loiter in sight of the spot without himself being seen, and as 
soon as it was dark followed with other two men, whom I 
planted much further away than I wished, though in sight of 
the tree. As for myself, there was nothing for it but to get a 
"back" from M'Sweeny, and clamber up the tree and seat 
myself as comfortably as possible among the strong branches. 

The night luckily was a dark one; but to prevent accidents I 
had drawn a crape over my face, and covered my hands with 
black cloth gloves, after buttoning my coat to the throat to 
cover every scrap of white likely to show in the dark. 

I began to weary of the task, and my bones were aching with 
the horribly hard seat; but about twelve o'clock I had my 
reward, for then a man muffled to the ears appeared, and began 
to grope cautiously over the turf below my perch. After some 
patient crawling and feeling with his hands, the man produced 
a trowel, and after a swift look around, began to turn up the 
turf, and throw out the earth with marvellous celerity. A 



A CRACKSMAN'S RUSE. 59 

moment or two sufficed for the task; the trowel struck on 
something metallic, and in a moment he had tugged out a tin 
deed case, such as lawyers use, which he opened with a subdued 
exclamation of delight, revealing for a moment the fact that it 
was filled to the lid with papers of various kinds. That vas all 
the length I could allow him to go. With one spring I was 
down at his back, with my two hands knotted firmly to his 
throat, carrying him over on his face, box and all, with the 
impetus I had gained in the descent. Though taken completely 
by surprise, the man instantly made desperate efforts to wriggle 
round so as to face me ; but I pounded his face deep into the 
dirt he had thrown out, whistling out sharp and shrill to the 
others, only too conscious of my inability to hold h±m long. 
M'Sweeny was the first to reach us, and the moment his leg 
was within reach of the wriggling ruffian's face it was seized by 
the calf in a set of dog-like teeth, and bitten nearly through. 
M'Sweeny's frightful yell as he dropped on the ground quickened 
the movements of the other two, and they pinned him by the 
legs and hair, not a moment too soon, while I pulled back his 
arms and snapped the handcuffs on his wrists in spite of every 
contortion and effort he made to elude the steel. 

"I'm murdered — I'm kilt!" groaned M'Sweeny. " Begorra, 
if it's not Snapping Andy ye've got, I'l'l let him nibble off the calf 
of me other leg free gratis." 

I wrenched the crape from my own face, and the men turn- 
ing our prisoner over at the same moment, we simultaneously 
recognised each other. 

"M'Govan!" he cried, in abject surprise. 

" Snapping Andy !" I returned, even more astonished than 
my prisoner. "Why, what on earth took you so far out of 
your own line? I thought fencing paid you too well for you to 
trench on the cracksman's ground?" 

"You don't mean to say I had anything to do with the 
robbery?" he shouted, with a wonderfully concerned and 
horrified look. " I can swear I never touched or saw these 
papers or that tin box before." 

"■ Ay, you're good at swearing," I coolly returned, while the 
others laughed derisively. 

" He'll be swearing next that he hasn't taken his supper off 
my leg," said M'Sweeny, with a groan. 

"I can clear myself — I can prove an alibi. I can tell you 
who it was that did the job," he desperately persisted ; then, 
after a start and a pause, he muttered with a deep oath, " I 



6o A CRACKSMAN'S RUSE. 

believe it's all been a trap, and I've been done by that 

'Fifty-two Tom.' He's your man. Get him, and I'll bear 
witness against him." 

"It's too late; we've got one man, and that will do in the 
meantime," I coldly returned. 

" You've no proof," he shouted. 

"Tuts — and you taken with the box in your hand? Take 
him away;" and helping up the groaning M'Sweeny, and giving 
him a lean all the way, we left the Meadows perfectly satisfied 
with our night's work. 

When nearing the Central Office, a shabby figure sidled up 
to us and raised its hands in affected surprise, and with a 
growl Andy recognised "Fifty-two Tom." 

"What have you took him for?" he inquired of one of the 
men; and being answered, he appeared more horrified than 
ever, and in a tone of virtuous reproach exclaimed, " Oh, 
Andy, how could you try that? — every man to his own line!" 

A torrent of furious declamation from Andy followed. He 
wanted us to seize " Fifty-two" there and then; but thatwoithy 
showed his sense of security by coolly entering the Office with 
us, and adding several statements tending to further implicate 
Andy. On examining the tin case, I was disappointed to find 
that everything was there but the gold watch. 

" P'r'aps you'll get it down at his shop," suggested Mr " Fifty- 
two;" "but he's got some patent hides, so it's possible you'll 
not nose it." 

Andy was locked up after making a vigorous and emphatic 
statement to the effect that " Fifty-two" was the real thief, and 
then I paid a visit to his shop. This was ostensibly a place 
where second-hand boots and shoes could be bought and sold, 
Andy in his prison experience having learnt enough of the art 
to be able to cobble a little. I searched high and low for the 
watch; but though I laid bare more than one hide, I found 
them all empty, and was beginning to fear that the watch had 
been got rid of in the usual way through some of the export 
agents, when my attention was attracted to a pair of remarkably 
heavy boots standing on an upper shelf. The peculiarity of 
this pair was that one of them was covered with dust, while the 
second appeared to have been only recently handled and was 
almost clean. I looked at the boots, felt inside of them, and 
then turned them bottom up, when I was at once struck with 
the size of the heels, which were not fitted with iron plates, 
like che soles, but with a smooth and almost nail-less piece of 



A CRA CKSMAN'S R USE. 6 1 

leather. I looked at the heel closer; and while M'Sweeny held 
the candle nearer, I tried to pinch and prise at the edge with 
the point of my knife. As I did so, my eye chanced to light 
on the scared face of Andy's wife, whom we had roused out of 
bed to make the search, and in the terrified glance she returned, 
I read that I was at last on the right scent. Another dig or 
two of the knife brought the top of the heel clean away, when 
I found that it had simply been glued on — the heel itself being 
a hollow box in which was snugly imbedded Mr Graham's 
watch, glassless, but sound as when it had left his office. 

We had now as good a case against Andy, so far as evidence 
was concerned, as we could have wished for, and he was 
brought to trial, with his wife, shortly after. " Fifty-two Tom" 
would have been happy to tender his evidence, but having a 
strong case we politely declined the offer. 

Snapping Andy was convicted of the robbery — innocently, 
of course, but that mattered little — and sentenced to ten years' 
penal on account of his reputation and previous convictions. 

"Ah, Andy, every man to his own line!" reproachfully 
observed "Fifty-two Tom" from the front row of the audience, 
as his friend was being led away. "You'll have time to sharp 
your teeth against coming out again." 

"Ay, and a knife too — look out!" was the savage answer; 
and then he went off to his ten years', and his wife to her six 
months', while good, innocent " Fifty-two Tom" accompanied 
me to Mr Graham's, and received the sum of ^20 as the 
reward of virtue. 

During the progress of the case I had striven hard to enmesh 
him too, but Andy's wife unfortunately had not been cognisant 
of the watch having been bought from him, so " Fifty-two" 
went off in great elation to squander the ^20. Of course I 
soon had him for something else, and he at his own request 
was sent to a different prison from that which sheltered his 
friend Andy. " Fifty-two" was the first to reappear in Edin- 
burgh, but then he was in broken health and had to find refuge 
in the Infirmary. While he was still there, and making no 
progress towards recovery, a visitor was one day announced at 
the usual visiting hour in the afternoon — a man who came into 
the ward saying, "Where is my dear friend, 'Fifty-two Tom?'" 

Weak as he was, " Fifty-two" sprang up with a cry of terror 
when he recognised the face of Snapping Andy. Then 
before any one could enterpose, Andy's fingers were clenched 
about the throat of the unhappy scoundrel, and he had him 



62 A CRACKSMAN'S RUSE. 



dragged t ut of the room, across the wide stone lobby without, 
and then hurled bodily down a whole flight of steps to the 
landing below. Nor was that all; for he instantly followed up 
the attack on the senseless man by kicking and worrying him, 
and then was beaten and mauled and half-killed before he was 
dragged off. " Fifty-two" was borne back to bed, and ended 
his days there a month or two after, while Snapping Andy 
went back to prison, where he one day so distinguished himself 
by snapping at the calf of a convict's leg, that the man in self- 
defence slipped off his iron-shod shoe, and gave him a neat tap 
on the tecaDles, which ended his snapping for ever. 



A WAIF OF THE GUTTER. 63 



A WAIF OF THE GUTTER. 

No one who remembers seeing Molly Slater singing on the 
street, in slush, or rain, or snow— generally near the High 
Street well, below the Tron — will think of that little bundle of 
rags having a story. Molly had but one song — " Home, Sweet 
Home;" and as her voice through constant exposure had de- 
generated to a kind of hoarse croak, I'm afraid her singing 
could hardly be called a musical success. I dare not specu- 
late as to Molly's age: she looked about ten or twelve; but I 
have often thought she must have been far below that, and 
merely aged with buffetings, and cruel blows, and starvation, 
and cold. For a while she carried a child in her arms, tucked 
close in to her with a shawl; but even then she did not make 
a fortune. People said it was a shame to have such a child 
exposed, and shut their pockets and passed on. It was a 
shame, undoubtedly, but then the shame wasn't Molly's. Only 
the care and concern, and hunger and cold, were hers — the 
shame all belonged to Abe Slater, her loafing, thieving, drunken 
father. 

Abe Slater was at regular intervals dropping into our hands, 
and during those retirements Molly's appearance was wont to 
improve somewhat. The look of wolfish hunger was partly 
smoothed from her face, the scared glance left her eyes, and 
part of the grime of months disappeared from her face. But 
regularly as Abe's term expired, Molly was over at the jail gate 
meeting him, and then she quickly merged once more into a 
legitimate bundle of rags. 

That was all I knew of her from casually seeing her. She 
was very dirty — how could she be otherwise when she had no 
home, and slept "nowhere?" But I looked forward a few 
years, and thought of the time when she would surely rub off 
part of her dirt, and accept a livery of finery more degrading 
than her rags. What else could come of such a training? I 
had no idea of that bundle of rags having a single thought 
higher than the gutter. 



64 A WAIF OF THE GUTTER. 

One day, however, a little light was let into my mind by the 
bundle of rags herself. I was going down South Gray's Close, 
when I saw Molly crouching on a stone step at a stair foot, and 
thought I would have a word with her. I daresay the thought 
of speaking to her would never have entered my head had she 
not, much to my surprise, greeted me with a friendly smile — 
the first I had ever seen on her pale face. 

" You are Abe Slater's girl, I think?" I said, pausing with 
one foot on the stair, which I had to ascend on business. 

" Yes, I'm Molly," she answered frankly. 

"You seem to know me?" I said, wondering at the change 
a smile made on the misery-lined little face. 

" Oh, yes; everybody knows you," said Molly. "You took 
father the last time." 

There was no reproach or bitterness in the tone; she seemed 
to accept the " taking" as part of her fate; yet I thought proper 
to justify the action. 

" I would rather not take anybody, Molly, but I must do my 
duty." 

" Yes, I know; but father won't always be troubling you. 
He'll mend some day." 

" What?" I cried, so astonished as to be completely off my 
guard, and to show the incredulity I felt. 

" You don't think he's too bad to mend?" said Molly, with a 
surprised look in turn. " He wasn't always poor, and a drunken 
man, and a — a — you know what. He had once men working 
under him; that was long ago, when mother was living and 
Bubbzie." 

" And who was Bubbzie?" 

" That was my wee brother. He used to go out with me — 
singing — up at the well." 

" And where is he now?" I asked simply. 

A curious, quivering contortion came over Molly's lips, and 
they worked spasmodically for a moment or two without a word 
rising to her lips. Then her eyes filled, and with an enforced 
gasp she blurted out the one word — 

" Dead." 

Secretly I 'thought that it was perhaps better so, but I said — 

" I suppose you miss him a good deal?" 

" Miss him? I think all the heart is gone out of me since 
he was took," she huskily quivered forth. " Oh, I didn't think 
anything hard when I had Bubbzie; but now, if it wasn't for 
father, I'd want to be dead too." 



A WAIF OF THE GUTTER. 65 

I could scarcely sympathise with such a sentiment, which I 
knew would be quite thrown away on a brute like Abe Slater, 
and merely grunted out a dry — 

" Imphm." 

" It wasn't so bad when mother was alive," continued Molly. 
" We had always a house of our own then, and mother used to 
wash and clean, and do lots of things for money to feed us." 

" I think we had her, too, once?" I thoughtfully observed. 

" Yes, but it was for him" breathed the child in a hushed 
whisper. " He sold some of the things she had got out to wash, 
and he kept out of the way drinking till the people wouldn't 
wait any longer, and mother was took up for it, when you found 
out where the things were." 

" But she pleaded guilty?" I said, with a new light breaking 
in on me. 

" Yes, just to save him. If I could save him and make him 
better I'd do just the same — the same ! I'd be glad to die and be 
shut up in a hole in the ground if it would make him leave off 
drinking. It's the drinking does it all; he's not a thief or a bad 
father by nature." 

"He won't seem that to you, of course," I dryly answered, 
"but I'm afraid he's a brute. Some one told me that he 
actually stripped your mother of the only blanket covering her 
when she was dying, and then, insensible with the drink it 
brought, lay snoring on the floor through the night while she 
was freezing to death." 

" Yes, but it was the drink too," said Molly, with her tearful 
eyes turned up to my face. " He didn't know what he was 
doing — I know he didn't — for when I was crying over mother, 
and he woke up with the noise and heard she was dead, 
he said, 'Well, don't bother over her — that won't do her 
any good — but get me something to drink, for the love of 
God!'" 

"What a pity he wasn't taken instead of her," I said, with 
undisguised pity and indignation. 

"No, no; he'll mend — he won't be always so bad," said 
Molly with a shiver. 

" Never in this world, I fear." 

" Did you never know of any one as bad changing ? " said 
Molly, with a tinge of despair crossing her pinched face. 

I thought instantly of Simon Penbank,* but as swiftly 
remembered that that singular character had hidden some- 
* See Hunted Down ; or, Recollections of a City Detective, p. 205. 
S. C. E 



66 A WAIF OF THE GUTTER. 

where in his bloated frame a heart, and I began to fear that 
Abe Slater had none. 

" Well — yes — I have known such a thing, but not often," I 
dubiously answered, after a pause. 

"Then it's possible with my father?" she joyfully cried, 
clasping her hands and looking up with her grimy face almost 
radiant. 

" Possible ? — yes, it's possible," I said, with a peculiar 
emphasis on the last word. 

" Then would you try to help me to make him better? " she 
eagerly pursued. 

" Me ? how ? — that is scarcely in my power," I said, rather 
staggered. 

" What does the jail generally do to people that are not 
quite bad? " said the little oracle, as a kind of clincher. 

I was so taken aback that I lost ground a little, and admitted 
that it generally made them worse. 

" That's just it," cried Molly, quite delighted at having 
clinched me. " Now, if we could keep father out of jail as 
much as possible — save him from it, you see — he would get 
better instead of worse." 

The argument was scarcely sound, but I was upset a little, 
and said " Yes." 

" Well, will you promise to help me to keep him out of jail 
as much as you can ? " 

Again I said " Yes," with the reservation that if he infringed 
the law he would certainly have to suffer for it. 

Molly, however, had eagerly grasped at the promise, and 
taken my hand in her own for a warm and reverential clasp in 
ratification of the queer compact. 

I was in the act of turning away to ascend the stair, when a 
sudden thought struck me, and I paused. 

"What was it put into your head the idea of bettering your- 
self, Molly?" I quietly asked. She thought for a moment, 
and then said — ■ 

" It was father." 

" What, he ? that brute ? how ? " 

" There was a lady passed me one day on the street with a 
little girl — so beautiful and pretty dressed — oh, she was like a 
wee angel ! I was singing, and the lady sent the wee beauty 
with a penny to me. I'd have given some pennies to have 
been let kiss her, but I'm too dirty. When she was gone, I 
ran to the entry where father was waiting and gave him the 



A WAIF OF THE GUTTER. v t 

penny, saying what a pretty wee lady had given me it. He 
swore and said — 'You'd be just as pretty if you wore as fine 
clothes.' I'd never thought of that before, and I said, ' Then 
why haven't I fine clothes, father?' but he only gave me a 
drive, and went into the whisky shop, saying, ' Off you go to 
your singing — there's a beautiful shower of rain coming on.'" 

" And that set you thinking of the cause, eh ? " 

" Yes, that and another thing. I was up in Parliament 
Square one night — that was in summer, when it was nice and 
warm — and I got into a crowd where a man was speaking out 
of a wooden box they'd put up for him. He was speaking 
about drink, and he said there was a demon in the whisky 
bottle, but he was so thin and so mixed up, and like the colour 
of the whisky, that you couldn't see him. Well, I knew father 
had taken a lot of whisky, so some of that demon must have 
got inside of him. If I can only get it out, father will be all 
right." 

"Well, and do you think you'll manage that?" 

" I've been trying hard, but I've not got on very well. You 
see there always keeps more of the demon getting in." 

I shook my head and made no remark, simply because I 
thought her task a hopeless one. " Where do you sleep at 
night, Molly?" I at last inquired. 

" Oh, I've lots of places to sleep, where nobody disturbs me 
or comes near but the rats, and they're friends. I've one rat 
that likes me, and comes and gets part of my supper when I've 
any. They can't take him away as they did Gudgeon's dog. 
He loved me and would have done anything for me. He was 
awful sorry for me when wee Bubbzie died, and he cried just 
as much as I did; but one day a policeman took him away up 
to the office with a string round his neck, and he never came 
back. He had a bad look, just as father has, and I think they 
killed him. But his badness was all in his face. Poor Grip ! 
I miss him, too — I'm always missing some one." 

The lonely little wretch looked so cool and calm in her 
misery and neglect, and so ingenious in extracting sunbeams 
from icicles, that I could scarcely look down on her seamed 
little face unmoved. I fumbled in my pocket, and tried to slip 
a copper or two into her icy fingers; but she drew back hastily, 
and, with almost a scared look — 

" No, no ! don't give me anything, for I'll just have to give it 
to him. You can't help me, but maybe you'll be able to help 
him. There's no good in pitying me, or giving me money, or 



68 A WAIF OF THE GUTTER 

boots, or clothes, for they'd all go, and only make him worse. 
We're best to be hard up, and I wish people would give me less 
than they do." 

What answer could there be to such acute and old fashioned 
reasoning? None. I left the child thus; but I did not get her 
so easily out of my head. Her pale, ghost-like face haunted 
me for days and weeks. To my surprise I had discovered a 
possibility of good in her — an instinctive prompting to some- 
thing better; and I began to consider how best something 
could be made of that feeling. I managed to interest some 
friends, with more means and influence than myself, in her case, 
and to my great satisfaction found an opening for her which 
promised great things compared with what she was steadily 
drifting to. Of course the change demanded an entire separa- 
tion from her father, and I expected a fierce resistance from 
him. To my astonishment, however, the stumbling-block was 
not the father, but the bundle of rags herself. He expressed 
himself as callously as indifference could make any one; but 
she promptly declared that, though they had been offering her 
a palace to live in, and a carriage of gold to ride in, she would 
not leave her father. 

" I'm all he has now," she quietly replied. " He's got no 
Bubbzie now, and no mother — nobody but me. No, I must 
take care of father." 

So the well-lneant attempt came to naught, and Molly was 
heard as usual croaking out the pleasures of home, which she 
never experienced or saw. There is a fixed idea in some minds 
that a little fortune is to be made on the streets by this species 
of beggary, but the idea is very far from the truth. Molly often 
croaked away till she was all but frozen dead, where she stood, 
for but a few paltry coppers, which only whetted but did not 
quench the insatiable thirst of Abe Slater. Then in the 
desperate hours which followed, he became a thief and a 
criminal — never a bold or even a skilful one, because that 
requires a special and arduous training, but still sufficiently 
persistent to cause us annoyance. The petty robberies were 
being constantly reported, and always with some aggravating 
remark, as to " Where were the police ? " or " Why were the 
sufferers so heavily taxed to pay us for doing nothing ? " Now 
it was a baker's basket of bread left incautiously at some stair 
foot; then a ham or a keg of herrings from some shop door; 
then a second-hand coat exposed for sale, or a pair of boots or 
a btfnch of cured fish. Abe was worse to detect than an 



A WAIF OF THE GUTTER. 69 



ordinary jail bird, for he appeared to burrow the moment he had 
committed a crime, and indeed, though often suspected, seldom 
left behind him evidence enough to convict. But this could 
scarcely continue. Petty thieving cannot, in the very nature of 
things, remain so. Those neglected gutter children, who 
seemed created to be criminals, and begin that way, do not 
continue it long. At first it is a potato or two snatched from a 
shop door to pitch at the head of a companion, then apples 
from inside the shop, then on, on to anything that man has 
made or God has grown. 

Abe grew confident of his powers, and played for higher 
stakes. He had no confidants or companions from whom to 
fear betrayal; he never robbed where there was the slightest 
chance of capture or detection ; so in the usual infatuated 
fashion he never looked to the end, but went blindly forward, 
grasping madly at bubbles with a thousand pitfalls at his feet. 

Very early one morning, and long before I was due at the 
Office, I was surprised by a visit at my home from little Molly. 
It struck me that she was paler than usual, even though the 
dirt and rags were prominent as ever. She kept one hand per- 
sistently in her breast while she tremulously opened her nego- 
tiations. 

" You remember you promised to help me all you could 
about — about father ? " she began. 

I did remember, and said so. 

" Well, I've brought something for you. I know I can 
depend on you not doing him any harm. And you won't ask 
me any questions or anything ? " 

Somewhat incautiously I gave the required pledge, and hold- 
ing out my hand, received a gentleman's gold lever, with a 
fragment of a gold Albert still dangling at the ring. I wai 
about to say very sharply — " Why, where did get this ? " when 
I remembered my promise; and, moreover, a glance into her 
scared face supplied me with the whole truth. 

" That's all now, and I'll have to go," said Molly, in tremb- 
ling eagerness to be gone. 

" Stop a moment, Molly," I said, deeply moved by her 
famine-stricken face and grateful eyes; and I led her into the 
kitchen without once alluding to the valuable plunder she had 
placed in my hands. A cup of hot coffee, and a thick slice of 
bread and butter, were placed before her, and she was accom- 
modated with a seat close to the fire. Molly took the bread 
in her hands without a word, and slowly wolfed it up, salting 



70 A WAIF OF THE GUTTER. 

the scalding coffee with many a silent tear. I verily believe 
the child was starving, and yet it was impossible to help her out 
of the rut. 

There were unknown capabilities for good in her — there was 
love, the true spring of all greatness ; and there was courage, 
and tact, and readiness, which were not there through any 
special training ; and with all these gifts, she was bound to drift 
steadily to destruction. As I stood with my back to her, 
gazing idly as it seemed out at the window, I could not help 
sighing over her fate. 

A secret terror that I might detain or question her, I believe, 
made her hurry over the unexpected meal, too concerned to 
enjoy it.v But when she rose, I needed to say nothing. The 
whole history of the valuable had been as plainly put before 
me by her scared face as if it had been written there. She 
grasped my hand with her cold fingers at the door, and was 
gone ; and then I went in to the Office and looked over the 
night's arrivals as recorded in the books. One was — " Gentle- 
man — drunk — name unknown — watch and part of Albert gold 
chain missing — no purse." 

"Ah, I believe I have the watch, and the bit of chain too," 
I remarked, as I coolly drew them out; and every one stared 
as if I had done something wonderful. As soon as the 
" gentleman " came to his senses, and had paid a visit to 
the bar of the Police Court, he was able to identify his watch, 
and to thank me for "my activity and skill" in recovering 
them so promptly ; but he knew nothing of how he had lost 
them. I was not sorry. If he had, I should have been com- 
pelled to take Abe Slater, which would at least have looked 
like a breach of good faith with poor little Molly. But I was 
none the less incensed at Abe himself. 

" I'll get him before long, and see that he is put out of the 
way long enough to give her a chance to get out of the gutter," 
was my mental resolve. It was not difficult for me to guess 
how Molly, and not a reset, had got hold of the watch and 
chain. Abe was not an ordinary thief; and as they never lived 
in a proper lodging or fixed home, it was probable that he had 
hidden the watch in some hole or corner in the condemned 
land they at times occupied while he imagined Molly asleep. 
Possibly he might not even remember hiding it, for he would 
probably be as drunk as his victim at the time of the crime; 
but if he did, he was not likely to suspect his own girl, but 
father some worthless wretch like himself. 



A WAIF OF THE GUTTER. 71 

Again I was visited by Molly about a week later, with the 
same trembling concern and eager anxiety for no questions 
being asked. This time she brought me a pretty lady's purse 
containing ^17 in bank notes. There had been some silver 
in the purse when it was missed in Princes Street by its owner, 
but that was gone. The numbered notes had probably frightened 
the novice at pocket picking, and he had hidden the purse in 
the same way as the watch. 

This time I was questioned as to who had been the thief, 
but I could only say in reply with perfect truth that I suspected 
one man, but had no proof that I was right. The lady was 
delighted to receive back the purse and notes ; and I was more 
anxious than ever to lime Mr Abe Slater. If he progressed in 
this way, he would soon be dabbling in every branch of " the 
profession." 

A morning or two later Molly appeared again, this time 
almost dropping with breathless excitement and fear. 

" Oh, I'm afraid I saw father coming along the Cowgate aftet 
me," she faintly gasped, as she was admitted. " If he finds me 
out here, you won't take him up if he strikes me?" 

" Won't I ? I only wish he may give me the chance," I 
exclaimed, with energy. "Well, Molly, what is wrong now?" 
This time Molly's prize was only an old-fashioned silver verge 
watch, with a bit of brass chain attached, wrenched as I after- 
wards discovered from the fob of a poor labouring man who 
had taken more drink than he could carry. 

I took the watch in silence, and then noticed for the first time 
that there was more than the usual dirt on Molly's face. One 
of her eyes was blackened, and a great dark bruise marked her 
lower jaw from the ear to the chin, as if some one had printed 
on that part of her face the width of a poker-point. 

" Let me see your face, Molly," I said, examining the wound 
in hushed interest. "Who did that?" 

" Oh, that's nothing, It wasn't father. I'm always getting 
myself hurt. I don't think anything of that," she hurriedly 
returned. " But I'm frightened for father — he has looked so 
strange this while, and perhaps he's watching me. Would you 
go down first and see that he's not there ! He'll go away 
whenever he sees you." 

I obeyed with great alacrity, hoping that I would catch him 
lounging about, when I determined to make short work with 
him. But the cautious and thoroughly cowardly Abe was not 
to be seen: and after a search about I returned and told Molly 



73 A WAIF OF THE GUTTER. 



she was safe to depart, but at the same time enjoined her to 
threaten to tell me if he dared to raise his hand to strike her, 
and to come to me at once if she was in any danger. 

The next morning, much to my satisfaction, I learned that 
Abe was in the cells. He had been found on the streets mad 
with drink about three in the morning, and instead of moving 
quietly along, had turned and ferociously attacked the police- 
man on the beat. It had taken two of them, with the assistance 
of some passers-by, to bring him to the Office, and even then 
he managed to give a deal of trouble before he relapsed into a 
drunken slumber. 

The same forenoon a messenger appeared before me at the 
Office, saying — 

" There's a girl out at the Infirmary wants to see you badly. 
She's quite a little thing, and was found awfully smashed in one 
of the condemned lands. Fell and hurt herself, I think." 

"What does she want with me?" I asked, thinking with an 
instinctive pang of dread of little Molly. 

"I don't know — she's not likely to get better — internal 
injuries as well, and her head all cut and broken — you can 
hardly see a face on her." 

I sat down — I had to — I was so overcome, and I suppose 
the man noticed my pallor, for he said with some feeling — ■ 

" She's not a friend, is she?" 

"No, no; I have met her, that's all," I answered, rousing 
myself; "but are you sure she has not been pitched into by 
some one?" 

" They can't tell ; she says not, and she should know best ; 
but they found some bits of a glass bottle in the cuts on her 
head. She suffers a deal, but is very quiet, and just keeps on 
saying, ' I would like to see M'Govan — would you let me see 
M'Govan, the thief-catcher, and let me hold his hand?'" 

I said nothing, but as I left I could not help thinking, " How 
lucky we have the brute safe in the cells — it will save a deal of 
hunting." 

Out at the Surgical Hospital I was shown a mass of bandages, 
over which the chaplain had just been leaning, and was told 
that that was little Molly. The moment she heard me doubt 
the fact, she put out a trembling, groping hand, which I took 
in my own. She could hardly speak; but when I bent over het 
she eagerly whispered — 

" I was afraid they'd say it was father hurt me, he gets such 
a bad name, and I wanted to tell you I fell and cut my head." 



A WAIF OF THE GUTTER. 73 

" Molly, you must tell the truth now, because they say you 
may not get better," I said, looking down on the quivering lips 
and crimson bandages with moist eyes. 

"They told me so, and that's why I sent for you. You 
won't let them take my father for it, will you ? It wasn't him 
— mind, it wasn't him." 

" Hush ! Molly. Listen to me. Wasn't it the demon you 
spoke of that was mixed up in the whisky that did it ? " 

There was a slight pause, and then she said — 

" I can't tell anything about it. I'm too ignorant to know 
these things, but I know father didn't do it. He's too fond of 
me. Bits of a bottle ? — well, maybe I fell on a bottle, or got 
hurt somehow with one. They say I'm to die — will I be put 
in a hole in the ground? Who is God? I never saw Him. 
Surely He won't be hard on me, seeing I never knew Him. 
Will I be long of falling asleep and waking up on the other 
side ? Love Him ? I'd love anybody if they only spoke kind 
to me. How my rat will miss me; he'll be looking everywhere 
and never finding me." 

I saw that she was getting hysterical and slightly delirious, 
and tried to soothe and quiet her, telling her to try to sleep 
and not think of anything but the possibility of getting well 
again ; but voice and brain were now beyond her control, and 
she feverishly chattered on in the same eager strain. Now she 
was with her father, then with me, then in the old ruin which 
sheltered them, and then on the street, but never accusing any 
one of injuring her. 

" I must go out and sing — there's a beautiful rain coming on, 
and snow in it " she feverishly cried, trying in vain to raise 
herself in bed, and then she began to sing in her poor croaking 
way, " Home ! Home ! sweet, sweet Home ! Be it ever so 
humble, there's no place like Home ! " After that she seemed 
to be wading among deep snow — snow that rose higher and 
higher on her body, that would not be beaten down, and could 
not be waded through or escaped. At last she seemed to give 
up the struggle in despair, and resignedly said — " It's awful 
cold, but it'll keep the wind off me. I'll sleep till father 
wakes." 

And poor little Molly, the gutter waif, slept. 

When I told her father of her death, he stormed and raved 
that she had been killed by some one, and fiercely upbraided us 
with hunting out any information that was to benefit the rich, 
but neglecting a clear case when the sufferer was an outcast 



74 A WAIF OF THE GUTTER. 

like himself. I thought that the drink was scarcely out of his 
head, he looked so earnest and hot in his persistence, but 
assured him that I would do my best to bring the crime home 
to the real culprit. I did my best and failed. There was no 
evidence whatsoever against him, and he was discharged after 
a fortnight's imprisonment. To my surprise, he came straight 
up to the Office, and holly demanded that we should investigate 
into the cause of his girl's death, and bring the murderer to 
justice. I looked at him steadily for some moments, and then 
drawing him aside, I said — 

" Abe Slater, you may be putting on that look or you may 
not; but I may tell you that you and no other are believed to 
be the slayer of that poor girl. Is it true, or is it not ? " 

" Me ? No. Would a father kill his own child ? " he cried 
with energy; then he started and appeared to think during a 
long and horrified pause. " No, it couldn't have been me ; she 
said it wasn't before she died," he muttered more to himself 
than to me, with a heavy perspiration oosing out on his brow 
" My God ! it couldn't have been me ? Surely it couldn't have 
been me ? No, no ! I'm bad, I know, but I would never have 
done that ! " 

He left me and the Office thus muttering and feebly question 
ing himself; and it was then quite cleat to me, that if he had 
actually caused his child's death it had been when he was 
insane with drink and unconscious of his own actions. 

I saw him afterwards out at the No. 10 ward, reserved foi 
cases of del. trem., and his reiterated cry was to the end a 
feebly whispered " No, no, I won't believe it. My God ! could 
it have been me ? " 

The question has never been answered, but it will be, one 
day, I hope. 



A SILVER-PLATED BUTTON. 75 



A SILVER-PLATED BUTTON. 

I was through at Glasgow trying to trace some valuable stolen 
property, and renewing acquaintance with my old friend Johnny 
Farrel, the detective I have mentioned in the sketch entitled 
" Tracking a Child Stealer,"* when the following curious case 
was in a manner thrust upon me. The time was in the month 
of November, and the first earnest of coming winter lay upon 
the ground in the shape of a fall of snow nearly six inches deep. 
It was shortly after ten o'clock at night, while, seated near a 
blazing red fire in the Central Office, turning over the books, with 
Johnny's assistance, that the principal sufferer in the case 
appeared to disturb our slow task and cheery talk. A stout 
elderly man, respectably attired, but looking dreadfully excited, 
was shown in by a sergeant from the " reception room" close by, 
with the words — 

" There they are. Jist gang in an' tell them a' aboot it." 

The old man removed his hat and mopped the profuse 
perspiration form his bald pate, at the same time bursting 
forth— 

" Guid God, sirs, I've been robbit! — robbit on Glasca Green 
by a masked footpad afore ten o'clock at nicht ! Which o' ye's 
the detective?" 

" I am Johnny Farrel, and this is Mr M'Govan, the Edinburgh 
detective, who is here on business," answered my companion, 
roused by the astounding news, yet scarcely able to repress a 
smile at the voluble excitement and anguished despair of the 
old man. 

" M'Govan? Edinburgh?" shortly echoed the old man. 
" Humph ! I doot ye've broucht through some o' your Canongate 
keelies along wi' ye. Near a hundred pounds, and the dashed 
thief had the impudence to say that he wad mak' it dae, though 
he wished it had been mair." 

" I hope you are wrong — I hope I have not brought any of 
* See Brought to Bay, p. 300. 



76 A SILVER-PLATED BUTTON. 

my 'bairns' with me," I laughingly returned; " but if I have, 
I assure you I am quite willing to take them back with me. 
Tell us how it happened, and how you came to give up the 
money in a public place without a struggle or an outcry." 

"An outcry! dae ye think I wanted a bullet through my 
heid? When a robber hauds a loaded pistol close to your 
heid, presses it richt into your temples, as if he was trying to 
bore a hole to the other side wi't, ye dinna feel inclined to mak' 
a great noise." 

" What! do you mean to say that the robber used a pistol?" 
I exclaimed, with an incredulous look. 

"_ No, he didna exactly use it, or it's no likely I wad be here 
tellin' the tale," he answered, with that polemical sharpness 
peculiar to Glasgow and its folk; "but he threatened me wi't, 
and that was enough. My name is David Stirling, and I keep 
a public-house at the east end, as ye may be aware. I have 
some property in Dunlop Street an' King Street, and was along 
the nicht drawing the rents. It was rather late, an' I was in a 
hurry to get back to my shop in time to shut it up mysel;' so 
after walking doon to the Victoria Brig wi' a freen', I cut awa' 
up across the Green richt through the snaw as the shortest 
and quickest road hame. I was about half-way across when a 
man suddenly jumpit forrit, saying, ' It's a caul' nicht, freen.' 
I said, ' Very caul',' and was for hurrying on, when he ran up 
to my side again, stappit a pistol to my hied, and said, ' Your 
money! quick!'" 

" What was the man like?" I eagerly inquired. "Young or 
old? and how was he dressed?" 

" It beats me to tell. He didna seem sae very auld, but 
spoke in a gruff, harsh voice to mak' believe he was ready to tak' 
my life. I couldna see his face, for it was covered to the mooth 
wi' a black mask." 

" And you gave up the money at once ?" I interposed, be- 
ginning to doubt the extraordinary and romantic tale, but 
careful to allow nothing of the impression to appear in my 
face. 

" I did. I turned oot my pocket-book and purse, and gied 
him notes and silver and gold up to near a hunder pounds — a' 
I had on me. It'll be an awfu' loss to me — I kenna hoo I'll 
get owre it." 

I looked at the old man in silence, curiously speculating as 
to whether he might not be on the eve of a comfortable 
bankruptcy, and anxious to account for some deficiency in the 



A SILVER-PLATED BUTTON. 77 

assets. I was unjust in the suspicion, as after events 
proved; but the whole story was so absurd, or rather so 
different from the ordinary run of cases, that my distrust was at 
least natural. My only wonder was that he had put down his 
loss at less than a hundred pounds, when he might as easily 
have said thousands. 

"And then he said that he would make the money do?" I 
inquiringly remarked. 

" Na, he said he wanted a hunder — a hale hunder, neither 
mair nor less — and seemed sulky at finding that I hadna as 
muckle; but after a wee — feared, I s'pose, that somebody cam' 
that way — he pouched the siller, put up the pistol, and bade me 
guid nicht." 

" Indeed?" I drily remarked, getting more suspicious as he 
proceeded. " One would think, Mr Stirling, that hundreds 
were much more easily earned with you than with most people 
when you allow them to be taken from you so easily." 

" Ah, but I'm no dune yet," warmly continued the publican. 
" The meenit I saw the awfu' pistol put awa', I thoucht to 
mysel' that we were on even terms, and that I micht as well 
hae a fecht for my money. The moment he turned his 
back, I gied oot a great shout, and sprang on him to try and 
throttle him the way the garrotters dae. But he sune showed 
me that he was baith stronger and younger than me; for 
after a short struggle, in which I gripped him by the sleeve 
o' his coat, or ony place I could get a grup o', he ca'd me owre 
in the snaw, leaving me lying there wi' naething but a brass 
button off his coat in my hand, instead o' the siller he had 
taen." 

"A brass button?" I exclaimed, more amazed than ever. 
" Brass buttons are not worn now-a-days on coats, unless by 
coachmen or lacqueys." 

"And it was a flunky's coat he had on," continued the 
publican. " I min' fine o' noticing the bright buttons; and he 
had also a bright red era vet roon' his neck." 

"Have you the button with you?" I curiously inquired, 
beginning to be more deeply interested. 

" No me. I drapped it amon' the snaw, and got up and ran 
as fast as I could for a bobbie." 

" Ah, that's a pity," I remarked. 

" Hoo a pity? What guid wad the button hae dune?" he 
testily answered. " It wadna have put my money back in my 
pouch, wad it?" 



7 8 A SILVER-PLATED BUTTON. 



" I am not sure of that," I calmly returned. " Less than a 
button has done as much before now; and you yourself admit 
that there is nothing else by which you could identify your 
assailant. Could you take us to the spot where you were 
attacked? I mean as near as possible to the exact spot where 
you were when you threw the button away?" 

" Fine that, for I wasna on the walk at a', but cutting across 
in a straight line for the east en' o' Monteith Row." 

I was a little doubtful of his ability to point out any par- 
ticular spot on a trackless waste of snow, but said nothing. 
We lifted down our hats, and got out into the white streets, 
beginning to be deserted by all but the police and the houseless, 
and turned on to the Green just as eleven o'clock was striking. 
A light shower of snow was blowing across from the east, and 
my hope of finding the spot was rapidly evaporating, when 
Stirling suddenly stopped near the centre of the Green, with 
the words — 

" It was here — the place maun be aboot here." 

I brought out a dark lantern, which I had secured in the 
Office before starting, and began flashing it along the white 
ground, stooping low with my companions to discover, if 
possible, traces of footsteps or a struggle. After about five 
minutes spent in the search, we did come upon a spot where 
some footprints appeared to become jumbled and crossed, 
and near to these was still discernible the broad imprint of a 
stout man's form — legs, arms, trunk, and head — as neatly 
moulded as if he had been let down on the snow with every 
care and tenderness. 

"That's where the deevil knockit the feet frae me," the 
publican tersely remarked, with the first glad start of recog- 
nition. " He jist cleekit his tae in ahint my legs and ca'd me 
owre, and as I had his sleeve in my fingers, I took a button 
frae it wi' me." 

I turned to the right hand of the imprint, and with a 
moment or two's carefully searching and raking among the 
snow, at last found a bright silver-plated button, such as are 
worn on the livery coats of waiters or footmen. The button 
had come away, not through being badly sewed on, but by 
sewing and cloth and backing coming out in a lump. The 
front of the button bore the Glasgow arms, and the back the 
name and address of a livery tailor farther west — not much to 
build a case upon, certainly, but still better than nothing, and 
worth much as tending to confirm the truth of Stirling's ex- 



A SILVER-PLATED BUTTON. 79 

traordinary story. The closest search on every side revealed 
no trace of money or any other article; so, taking the button 
with us, with its little round shred of brown cloth attached, we 
left the spot, and gave up the investigation for that night, as 
far, at least, as the curious clue was concerned. 

Next morning, before going to the Office, we called upon the 
tailor whose name was stamped on the back of the button, and 
had our hope quickened by learning that he used buttons of 
that make for only one establishment — a fashionable hotel, 
which prided itself in having everything about its servants after 
designs of its own. Three waiters' coats had lately been turned 
out for this hotel, and the firm opinion of the tailor's foreman 
was that the button I produced belonged to one of these new 
coats. Thus far it appeared as if we were to have plain 
sailing ; and Farrel, secretly disgusted, I believe, at the sim- 
plicity of the case, roundly bet me long odds that we would 
have the criminal in our clutches in half-an-hour. I was not 
so sanguine, and remained silent. Our next call, of course, 
was at the fashionable hotel, and when we were respectfully 
received at the entrance by a bowing and deferential waiter, 
wearing a coat of the identical shade of the scrap attached to 
our curious clue, with silver-plated buttons to match, it may 
be guessed that we both scanned the sleeves of the said waiter's 
coat with more than ordinary interest and eagerness, while we 
ingeniously held him in talk for the purpose. But our vigilance 
was unrewarded. No button was lacking, nor was there the 
slightest trace of a rent in either sleeve. A few casual inquiries, 
which he answered respectfully, though with growing surprise 
and curiosity, elicited the fact that there were other two waiter? 
in the establishment, each wearing a coat similar to that on 
his back. 

"And which of you — I mean, which of the three — do you 
remember, was it that was out last night at about ten o'clock?" 
I inquired, as indifferently as possible. 

"Out last night, sir?" he echoed in astonishment; "there 
wasn't one of us out at that time — couldn't have got out on 
any account, sir. We had a supper in the house, and I can 
assure you it took us all three at it, hot and hard, to manage 
the waiting." 

Rather disappointed, I inquired for his fellow-waiters, and 
with some delay was at last introduced to them both. One of 
them — a smart, open-faced lad — came running into the coffee- 
room in mute wonder; but his surprise was increased when I 



8o A SILVER-PLATED BUTTON. 

deftly wrenched at his right arm, turned round the sleeve at 
the wrist, showed that a button had been wrenched off, taking 
the piece with it, and then coolly produced the missing button 
and shred of cloth from my own pocket, and fitted them in 
before his eyes. At the same moment, Farrel whipped out the 
little silver crowned rod forming his staff of authority, and the 
young fellow paled as he discovered for the first time that he 
was talking with detectives. 

"Well, what does it all mean?" he said at last, somewhat 
defiantly; "and where did you get that button?" 

I gravely replaced the button in my purse, and took out my 
note-book to jot down his replies, if any, to my questions. 

"We found it where you left it last night — somewhat hurriedly, 
I believe, but taking a good deal more than its value with you. 
You need not answer my questions unless you choose. What 
is your name?" 

"John M'Leod" 

There was no shrinking or guilty blush with the prompt 
answer, but rather a kind of scared uneasiness, as if he were 
asking himself faintly what he had done, or whether it would 
not be better to remain doggedly silent. 

" Do you mind telling us if you went out last night with this 
coat on, about ten o'clock?" 

" I did not. I was not out all night, or all day either, as 
they can all testify," he hotly answered; "and I hadn't that 
coat on last night at all." 

"You hadn't? Did you wait at the supper in your shirt 
sleeves?" 

"No; we had black coats on. It was quite a swell affair, 
and everything had to be nobby and nice." 

"Then who had your coat on, if you wore a black one?" 
I calmly pursued, fixing him rigidly with my eye, so as to read 
any blushing or faltering, should his words suddenly cease. 
He flushed slowly to the eyebrows, started slightly, as if at a 
sudden recollection, and then slowly answered— 

"I — I would lather not say." 

"Humph! I expected as much," was my short reply. 
"Well, get your hat." 

The significant words appeared to fall on his ears like a 
death blow. He staggered faintly, pale to the ears, and with 
a glistening of grief in his eyes, faintly exclaimed— 

"Why, you surely do not— do not— think I've been up to 
any bad games? Is there anything wrong — seriously?" 



A SILVER-PLATED BUTTON. Si 

"There is — something very serious," I gravely answered; 
"but you need not betray yourself, unless you like." 

" I have nothing to betray — nothing to conceal," he indig- 
nantly returned. " I have always borne a good character, as I 
can prove to you; and I hope I shall always bear one." 

" I hope so," I drily responded. 

" I lent the coat as a favour to an old friend last night, and 
got it back an hour or two later as you see it." 

"What friend was it?" 

" One far above any petty meanness or the thought of crime," 
he warmly answered; " so, if you suspect him, you may change 
your thoughts as soon as you please." 

"Will you favour us with his name?" 

" Certainly. Tom Stirling, an Edinburgh medical student." 

"Whew!" I whistled right out in amazement, and then, 
turning to Farrel, cried, " Stirling ! why, that's the same name 

as . Can it be a relation? Perhaps only a madcap trick, 

such as students delight in?" 

"Any relation to David Stirling, the publican here?" sharply 
inquired Farrel. 

"Yes, his son; but they've quarrelled, and have separated." 

"You called him an Edinburgh student," I interposed; "if 
he is so, how came he to be here last night?" 

"I don't know, sir; I was as much surprised to see him as 
you can possibly be. The truth is, Tom was always very kind 
to me, helping me to get on. I was only potboy with them at 
one time ; but Tom showed me how to smarten up, and get a 
waiter's place, and you see me now;" and the young man drew 
himself up with commendable pride. 

"Well, proceed; you were surprised to see him. What did 
he say ? " 

" He said he wanted a loan of my coat ; and, as I wasn't 
going to use it, I gave it, not knowing he'd be so careless as to 
tear a button off. Then he asked for a muffler, and I gave 
him one — a red worsted one, which I haven't used for years." 

" He has quarrelled with his father. How does he support 
himself?" 

" I don't know; but I'll swear he does it honestly," promptly 
returned M'Leod. " Oh, you needn't think he would do any- 
thing wrong. He's one of the kindest fellows breathing." 

I said nothing. I had got an awkward case in hand, full of 
disagreeable intricacies and unpleasant tasks, and was now 
heartily sorry that Stirling had ever given the case into the 
s. c. F 



82 A SILVER-PLATED BUTTON. 



hands of the police ; sorry that the criminal should turn out to 
be his own son, and doubly sorry that it was our duty to inform 
him of the fact. I thought — rashly, of course — that I had got 
to the bottom of the mystery, and by no very intricate windings 
or ferretings; whereas, had I known it, I was only on the 
threshold of the labyrinth. 

" It will be the usual story — dissipated son squandering right 
and left the hard-won gains of his poor old father," I thought; 
"and when the supplies have been cut off, turning footpad and 
thief, to continue the mad course." 

But first thoughts and conclusions are not always soundest, 
as I shall presently show. There was but one course for us — 
that was, however reluctantly, to take M'Leod with us, and 
lock him up on a charge of complicity, and then inform the 
publican of the painful discovery we had made. I visited him 
at his place of business, and with much hesitation laid the 
facts before him. I had expected a start of horror, and per- 
haps a wail of despair, at the frightful predicament of being 
forced to prosecute his own son ; but, though he appeared 
startled enough, his feeling appeared to be more one of con- 
centrated fury and passion than of grief. 

"The blasted renegade ! to turn on his ain faither, and rob 
him like a stranger," he exclaimed. " He'll maybe think that 
I'll not let the law tak' its course — " 

"That is scarcely in your power now; but I was about to 
suggest that, when he is broLght up, you might absent yourself, 
and thus perhaps have the lad set at liberty. Even that course 
might fail to save him ; but — " 

"But I'm no gaun to try it," he sharply returned. "You 
gang through and catch him, and pit him in Duke Street as 
sune as you like. I'm ready for him, the deevil ! A hale 
hunder pounds. I hope they'll gie him a year for each pound." 

"You wish him to be punished, then?" 

" Punished ? Ay ! and what's mair, if I had only thought it 
was him, I wud have punished him weel at the time. The 
scoondrel ! I wish I had beetled the life oot o' him." 

This was enough for me ; and the same afternoon, after 
making a few inquiries, I took train for Edinburgh, in company 
with Farrel, with the intention of trapping the robber in the 
full zenith of success. I expected to find him in some flashy 
lodging, or strutting the streets, and parading the public-house 
bars in full feather, scattering the stolen money in handfuls, as 
became a dashing medical student. It was with something 



A SILVER-PLATED BUTTON. 83 

like surprise, therefore, that I found him lodged in a miserable 
garret in College Street — a closet would be a fitter word — 
which could not have cost him above a couple of shillings 
a-week. The rather untidy landlady said "Yes, he was in — at 
his dinner. Would we gang in, or would she take in oor 
names ? " 

We decided to "gang in," and were shown into the low- 
roofed den, to find him hard at work with a book in one hand, 
and a potato in the other. This dinner of the medical student 
was, as he himself expressed it, "a sodger" (red herring), and 
some five or six potatoes ! I stared and stared, wondering 
where the stolen hundred pounds had gone, or how he came 
to be so frugal as not to use it, after risking so much to get it ; 
and then, noting my puzzled expression, he cheerily remarked — 

" Welcome, gentlemen, to my study, parlour, bedroom, and 
dining-room; small perhaps, but very convenient; everything 
within arm's length wherever you choose to seat yourself. No 
matter, I am working for a better. May I inquire?" and his 
look changed a little as I took out my staff. 

" You may; we have just come from Glasgow to arrest you 
}n a charge of robbing your father." 

" Hem — that's awkward, as it will interfere with my studies," 
he meditatively remarked, after coolly tapping his forehead in 
dubiety, and without showing the slighest concern or alarm. 
"You couldn't put it off for a week, I suppose?" 

"Scarcely;" and I smiled slightly, wondering if he were not 
mad. 

" My respected parent, I suppose, knows that I was the 
one who relieved him of the superfluous money?" he inquiringly 
pursued. 

" He does, and insists on pressing the charge," I quietly 
answered, more and more surprised at his cool and smiling 
demeanour. 

"Ah, just so; I'm sorry for him — very sorry. Well, I 
suppose we may go at once." 

'• One moment. It will be necessary to search the room." 

" For the money, I suppose?" he lightly returned. "Now, 
look you, am I like a man who has a hundred pounds lying 
about me? No; you may save yourself the trouble, and me 
the annoyance of having my books and papers disturbed. The 
money is not here." 

" You are wonderfully frank. Have you any objection to say 
where you have put it?" 



84 A SILVER-PLATED BUTTON. 

" I have put it — well, we'll say where it should have been 
long before I touched it. Will that satisfy you?" 

" For want of a better. Beggars must not be choosers," I 
lightly returned, taking care, however, to search thoroughly 
the whole place, and to repeat the process upon himself, when 
we reached the Central Office in High Street, whither we con- 
veyed him before starting for Glasgow. 

Now, as far as the case had gone, there were in it strange 
elements of mystery — incidents quite inexplicable by ordinary 
reasoning. 

A young man might rob his father, and even take a special 
journey to accomplish the crime; but how did it happen that 
he was still in poverty, though only a day had intervened ? I 
made many conjectures, and futile searches, and inquiries, but 
so far at sea were they all that they need find no place here. 
But a day or two after, when an outline of the curious facts 
had found its way into the newspapers, a new light was thrown 
on the affair by a young woman and her husband, named 
Maggie and William Syme, calling at the Central Office, and 
expressing a wish to see the prisoner. This request being 
refused, the young wife — she was a mere girl, and uncommonly 
pretty — said she could explain all about the robbery, so as to 
clear Tom Stirling entirely. We were brought in to listen to 
her story, and a curious story it was. 

" I am an orphan, and I was brought up from a child by Mr 
Stirling," she began in a tearful, but at the same time very 
engaging way. " Tom and I have always been like brother and 
sister, but when we became man and woman, Tom's father 
took the notion of having us married, knowing that though 
I had not a shilling of my own, I am not without expectations 
from a distant relative, who, though he never holds intercourse 
with me, has no other heir. Tom struck out against the 
arrangement, saying roundly that he didn't care for me in that 
way, and also pointing out that I was already engaged to Mr 
Syme here;" and she blushed a little as she indicated her 
husband. " Well, we had rather an unhappy time of it, till at 
last I left and got married, when Mr Stirling turned round like 
a fiend on his son Tom, called him everything for his foolish- 
ness in not carrying me off instead of a nobody, as he called 
my husband, and finally turned him out of the house, and told 
him to shift for himself. But Tom had a deal of push in him, 
and many friends, so he continued to work his way at college, 
and never came to Glasgow but he seemed overflowing with 



A SILVER-PLATED BUTTON. 85 

money and good nature. Last summer, my husband, who is 
in business in Partick, put his name to a bill for a friend who 
has recently absconded, and the want of the hundred pounds, 
coming so unexpectedly, and at such a time, nearly drove us 
mad. We didn't know where to turn, and ruin seemed sure, 
till I thought of Tom, and wrote him a long letter, explaining 
all I needed — the loan of a hundred pounds till we should find 
our feet again, and asking if any of his friends could get us the 
money. I wrote the letter, but did not post it, as it struck me 
I could say it better than write it; and I went through and 
saw him at the college gate, where he looked rather doubtful 
for a time, and scratched his head, as if not sure what to do. 
But after a minute he looked brighter and said, ' Oh, I have it 
— the day after to-morrow is rent-day — yes, I can get it for you, 
Maggie; borrow it from a friend who has more than he ought 
to have, or can use. Expect me with the money the day after 
to-morrow.' Well, I was so grateful that I kissed him on the 
street there and then — oh, you needn't smile to my husband, 
for he's not jealous of Tom — and came home with a light heart. 
Punctual as the day came round, Tom appeared, gave us the 
money, and left in high spirits. Oh, little did I think what he 
had done to get it, or I would have been the last to take it;" 
and a flow of tears confirmed her impulsive statement. 

We were now in a worse plight than before, for of course we 
had to detain both the young wife and her husband on a charge 
of abetting the crime. But a greater surprise was to come. 
The next day, when they were brought up for examination, and 
Tom Stirling saw who the two prisoners were, he turned to the 
Sheriff, and with more excitement and wrath than he had yet 
displayed, demanded to make a statement in presence of his 
father, the accuser. 

" I have remained silent in hope that you would think better 
of it," he sternly began, facing his parent with no loving glance. 
" You know that I took the money from you, and you know 
for whom I took it, yet there you stand as cruel and determined 
as though we were the criminals and you the saintly innocent. 
I beg to inform this Court that the money I took from my 
father, with another hundred behind it, belongs to this poor 
girl at my side — ay, wholly and solely to Maggie Syme. 
Rather more than a year before she married, a friend left her 
the money in trust of my father; but he enjoined me not U 
t^ention the fact to her, saying, ' Ye ken, Tom, it'll be yours 
by and by.' When the rupture came, he said, ' I'll never tell 



86 A SILVER-PLATED BUTTON. 

the ungrateful hussy aboot the tvva hunder pound. What she 
doesna ken '11 dae her nae herm.' I protested against the 
robbery, but in vain; and as I was unwilling to expose my 
father and have him charged with the embezzlement, I allowed 
the matter to rest, merely resolving to pay the money into her 
hands out of my own pocket as soon as I should take my 
diploma and save as much. If I have spoken a word that is 
not true, may God judge me accordingly. There stands the 
real criminal; and if my word is insufficient, perhaps his own 
crimson and tell-tale face will be better evidence against 
him!" 

All eyes were turned upon the guilty publican, who was 
shrinking rapidly towards the door, when he was sharply 
ordered back by the Sheriff, and so searchingly examined and 
forced to make such confirmatory admissions, that in a short 
time the Fiscal rose and requested permission to abandon the 
charge against all three, at the same time recommending Mrs 
Syme to proceed against Stirling for the appropriation of her 
money. 

But the joyful released prisoners were of a different nature 
from the accuser, and the charge never saw the light. Tom 
Stirling received his diploma shortly after, and was started in 
practice in grand style, with carriage and all complete, by his 
subdued and repentant father. 



BONNIE BELL, THE MACHINIST. 87 



BONNIE BELL, THE MACHINIST. 

I had been called up to a big tailoring establishment on the 
Bridge, to investigate a peculiar case of pilfering, when I first 
met and spoke to Bonnie Bell, as she was called. The case 
had no connection with her, or she with it — one or two of the 
men had merely used an innocent boy as a cat's-paw, by 
sending him down to the front shop for sewing twist, trimmings, 
and even pieces of velvet and silk, which went into their own 
pockets instead of their work; but Bell's fresh face and rosy 
cheeks were such a contrast to the sickly and wearied faces in 
the work-room in which several sewing machines were rattling 
away, and she was so beautiful withal, that I was drawn towards 
her, just as one might be drawn to admire a beautiful flower 
unexpectedly lighted upon in a desert. Yet it was not the 
beauty alone which attracted one to the face. There are many 
as sweet faced as Bonnie Bell, whose appearance at once calls 
forth the thought, "She is beautiful; but she is quite able to 
look after herself." Bonnie Bell gave one the idea of a clinging 
simplicity and an artless fondness which needed a manly and 
protecting hand to guard her through evil and good report. 

I was not surprised, then, to learn, a few days later, when I 
met her on the street away from the birring noise of the sewing 
machines, that she was fresh from the country. She spoke of 
her home — in a little hamlet near Norman's Law in Fife — with 
brimming eyes and a heart yearning for its quiet joys. The 
hamlet, she said, was a mere row of cottages, cradled in the 
hills, and miles from any railway; and the inhabitants were 
mere farm hinds or weavers ; but her father's place was like a 
little paradise. The cottage was only a low-roofed " but and 
ben;" but in front was a long slope of garden ground, filled 
with flowers in rich masses and a wild profusion that would 
have sent a professional gardener into hysterics. Roses crept 
up and covered the white walls; beds of. dark wallflower skirted 
these, mingling its sweet scent with the intoxicating perfume of 
sweet peas and dark violets. At the foot of the garden a lila: 



88 BONNlk B&LL, 7"HE MACtilNIS?. 

and a laburnum tree joined their branches and mingled their 
bright blossoms over a rustic seat, on which Bell's father often 
sat and read aloud to his children on the soft summer evenings, 
with his children at his feet, and perhaps a neighbour or two 
leaning over the low fence to share the pleasure ; and strangers 
passing the spot at rare intervals to climb Norman's Law, and 
catching sight of the masses of violets, crimson daisies, golden 
thyme, and sweet balm, never failed to pause with exclamations 
of surprise and delight. 

And the peacefulness and beauty of the outside of the 
cottage were but a reflex of what reigned within. If their 
pleasures were simple, they were also unalloyed; and Bonnie 
Bell, after a long day at her loom, would retire to a white- 
washed den above the kitchen and workroom — a mere cranny 
of a place, with one pane of glass set into the tiles for a window, 
thinking it a perfect palace of peace and comfort, and sleep 
with a calm biissfulness which few dwellers in palaces know. 

All this continued till Bell went to visit a friend in Edin- 
burgh, and then she went back to find everything dwindled in 
size, and only insignificance where all had been grandeur and 
beauty. And then money was so much more easily made in 
town. She had to slave from early morn till late at night at 
her loom to make five or six shillings in a week — to say nothing 
of many days when there was no web in the loom to work at; 
in the town she had met a girl who, by working a sewing 
machine, could earn ten, fifteen, or even twenty shillings a 
week. The picture was a perfect vista of wealth and happiness 
• — too tempting to be resisted — and Bell, who was naturally 
neat-handed, nimble, and clever, resolved to go to Edinburgh. 
Much of the gilt which made the picture so dazzling had been 
rubbed away since then. She found that if she made more 
money, it took more to support her; and already the constant 
treadling of the machine was beginning to tell upon her back, 
in which she never before felt a pain which a night's rest would 
not cure; but she liked Edinburgh, and was resolved never to 
go back to the country. 

" She will lose the roses on her cheeks soon," was my mental 
comment as I parted with her when our ways diverged. " I 
hope she will get a good husband. It would be a pity for 
such an artless nature to have the dream dispelled." 

Not long after this I met one of Bonnie Bell's shop com- 
panions, and learned with some surprise that she was married. 

" Has she got a good match ? " was my quick inquiry, for I 



BONNIE BELL, THE MACHINIST. 89 

had begun to take quite an interest in the simple country girl, 
though never dreaming of her having to pass through my 
hands. 

" No — a lazy drunken brute of a tailor, that nobody would 
have picked up if they had seen him fall and break his leg. I 
wonder, and everybody else, what she saw in him." 

I was sorry to hear it, and said so. 

" She's back to work again in another shop," continued the 
girl with energy. " He'll not work a stitch, so she must do it 
or starve. Isn't it a shame ? I believe it's her that keeps him." 

For a good nuny weeks after hearing this, I kept a look-out 
for Bell on the Bridges, when I chanced to go along them at 
meal hours; but I never met her, and gradually forgot her story. 
A.bout a year after, I was called to investigate another case oi 
pilfering in a tailor's shop, and in visiting the place entered a 
little den behind the tailor's workshop in which two machinists 
were working away as for life and death. 

The robberies in this case were serious, and had been 
continued for months, till goods to the value of p£6o or ^70 
had been abstracted. I had no clue whatever to work upon, 
except the firm assertion of the proprietors that the thief must 
be one of the workers. 

In entering the girls' room, which was partitioned off from 
the tailor's place, and had a little sliding panel in the wall for 
thrusting through work, I seemed to surprise them; and one 
haggard-faced girl, though pallid enough at best, became swiftly 
whiter as her eyes fell upon my face. It was that scared look 
of palpitation and dread which is familiar to me as the fall of 
night, and which so often betrays the guilty in spite of showers 
of protestations. 

My swift thought was the query — 

" Surely it is not one of the girls that is the thief?" 

I had started this thought, and was gazing curiously into the 
haggard and still beautiful features of the young woman for 
some seconds before any recognition came. Then I slowly 
broke the awkward silence by saying — 

i: Surely I should know your face ?" 

She smiled faintly, though with a lingering trace of the scared 
look, and said — 

"Oh, yes; you spoke to me once when I was in M s. 

That was before I was married." 

" And you are Bonnie Bell?" I answered, with little vivacity, 
for the change on her was too sad to be passed over. 



ao EONNTE BELL, THE MACHLNlSf. 

"Yes; I used to be called that," she said, with a sharply 
stifled sigh and a weary pressure of her hand on her side, 
" before I was married." 

I ought to have been thinking most of her vanished beauty 
and freshness, for in one year she was so altered that but for 
her surroundings and her smile I should never have known 
her; but the truth is I was thinking of that scared and expec- 
tant look with which she recognised me. It is an expression 
which has but one meaning to me; but that interpretation was 
the very one I was most loath to make in her case. I had 
taken a liking to her, and could not allow myself to think her 
guilty. 

"Have you any family?" I asked, to fill up the painful 
pause while she bent over her work to tie some ends. 

" Yes, one — I get a woman to look after it while I'm here," 
she said, with a slight flush tinging her cheek. 

In mercy I forebore questioning her further; indeed, I could 
not have said more without alluding to her husband, and that, 
I feared, would be a painful subject to her. I therefore passed 
on through a side door to examine the room from which the 
pilfered goods had been taken; and after completing my work 
there, was still haunted by the idea that Bonnie Bell at least 
knew something of the thief. A single look had done it all, 
and that was no sound evidence; but the idea stuck to me in 
spite of my efforts to throw it off; and when the master said to 
me — 

"Well, Mr M-Govan, do you suspect any one?" I started 
out of my cogitations as guiltily as if I had been the thief, and 
answered, with some confusion — 

" I am not quite sure. It surely could not be one of jom 
machinists ? " 

His eyes brightened at once, and I saw at once that oui 
suspicions coincided. 

"You suspect one of them," he said, promptly; "which is 
it?" 

" It could not be the little one," I evasively returned; " she 
is too stupid-like for such a bold thing." 

"Exactly my thought," he responded, "and, like me, you 
suspect Bella Simpson, the other machinist. I am sorry for 
the poor thing, even if it should turn out to be she who has 
done it. She has a drunken beast of a husband, who works 
about a day in every month, and if she has robbed me, you may 
depend he has set her on to it." 



BONNIE BELL, THE MACHINIST. 6i 

" He never comes about the shop himself, does he ? " 

" No, I wouldn't allow the wretch within my door." 

" Are the stolen things articles which he could readily use 
or find a market for?" 

" Oh, just that — trimmings, silk, cloth, velvet. But I don't 
see how that woman could have taken so much without the 
help of some of the shopmen. You see they have charge of 
the things, and give everything out that is used. She might 
have taken one or two things without their knowledge, but not 
so much as sixty or seventy pounds worth." 

I got Bonnie Bell's address from him, and then got him to 
go down with me to the place. The house was a single room 
in a nasty entry off the Potterrow. There was no one in when 
we knocked; but when we tried the door and found it un- 
fastened, we entered ilv wretched place, wheie we were speedily 
joined by an old worn, n from the next house. Simpson was 
out, she said, but she ras there to look after the house and 
bairn, and would answer any questions. Yes; she thought he 
had been sewing some before he went out, and if we wanted 
him particularly she thought she might find him at the public- 
house further along, drinking or playing dominoes with the 
hatters, who were the chief patrons of the place. AVe did not 
want him particularly; but my companion began looking over 
some things in the window place, at which Simpson on rare 
occasions worked, and there he found a man's frock coat, 
which had evidently been turned, and was being decorated on 
the coat-collar with a facing of black silk. 

" It's very like some of the silk I've missed," said my com- 
panion, after a long look at the facing; and, sure enough, when 
he searched about, he found the cuttings from the facing, on 
which was a coloured edging which exactly corresponded with 
that on the web in the warehouse which I had examined. 

Still, this was not indubitable proof that the silk had been 
stolen, as many webs might have the same edging. But on 
searching about the room, the master tailor discovered several 
other articles, which he declared could have been taken from 
no shop but his, including a box of trouser buttons bearing on 
them a stamped impression of his name and address. Alto- 
gether, I thought we found enough to justify me in questioning 
Mr Simpson a little, and we accordingly went along to the 
public-house, and found him glossy and exuberant, with his 
goggle eyes almost jumping from his head, among a group of 
hatters at the counter, and just in the act of burying his nose 



92 Bonnie bell, the MachinlsT. 

in a foaming pint stoup of ale, to which some of them had 
treated him. 

As I went up to him with the brief words, " Your name is 
Simpson ? " his drunken smile faded, and the pot was put down 
un tasted. 

" Yes, sir, my name is Simpson," he said with drunken 
dignity. " What do you want with me ? " 

" Only to know where you got some silk and trimmings and 
trouser buttons we've just found up at your house. The 
buttons bear this gentleman's name and address. My name is 
M'Govan, so you will understand that I've a right to ask." 

The bloated face became more and more blank and ghastly, 
and the pot trembled so much in his hand that he decided to 
put it down on the pewter-covered counter. 

"Silk trimmings?" he echoed, trying to assume a grave and 
thoughtful look. " You don't mean to say there's anything 
wrong with them? My wife bought them for me with good 
hard cash in a shop in Niddry Street. All fair and square, I 
assure you." 

He had quite a glib account to give of the whole transaction 
so far as he was concerned ; and it was evident to me that, 
whatever he lacked, he had at least the gift of the gab. 
Nevertheless I took him with me — after he had carefully 
finished his pot of ale — and then, after I had seen him as far 
as the Police Office, I went back to the Potterrow to get the 
stolen things, and also Bonnie Bell. 

I was there before her, and had to wait half-an-hour till she 
appeared — wearied and worn from her day's work. 

The first glance into my face as she entered the wretched 
room told her all, and she instantly dropped into a seat, and 
feebly wrung her hands. 

" I've got the things," I said huskily, for I felt for the poor 
girl, " and you need not say anything about them unless you 
like, for it will all be turned against you. Would you like to 
eat anything before we go?" 

"Eat! "she echoed with an anguished look. "I couldna 
eat. It would choke me. But you"ll surely let me kiss my 
bairn? Oh, will I hae to dae without my bairn a' that time?" 

"Perhaps you will not be long away," I cheeringly answered. 
" I don't think they will be hard on you." 

She stared at me with a puzzled expression, and then wearily 
said — 

" They canna be hard on onybody else, for it was me that 



BONNIE BELL, THE MACHINIST. 93 

did it. I never thought there was much harm in taking a few 
buttons and a wee bit silk. I'm sorry for it now, and would 
never do the like again, but it's owre late, owre late ! " 

Her tears came freely ; and when she got her atomy of 
a child in her arms from the old woman who looked after it by 
day, I thought I should never get them parted. 

" It'll maybe be deid afore I come oot again," she hysterically 
exclaimed as I forcibly led her down the stair. " He'll never 
look after it like its mither. Eh, if I could only wake up in my 
faither's hoose, and find it a' a dream ! " 

A curious fact, which I have noticed in many cases, was that 
Bonnie Bell, though she had rubbed off much of her homely 
Doric in Edinburgh, got it all back the moment she was power- 
fully agitated. 

She sobbed most of the way to the Office, and in going up 
the close whispered suddenly to me — 

" I ken I'll be put in jail for it, but oh, could you no try and 
keep the story oot o' the Fife papers? My faither reads them 
every Saturday nicht; and though they've never forgien me 
jince I married him, it would kill them to read o' my 
disgrace." 

I promised to do my best, and really did speak to the only 
reporter I noticed in Court next day, but the case did get into 
the papers notwithstanding. Bonnie Bell of course did not 
know of it then, for she was sent to prison for thirty days, 
while her husband was discharged, and went back to his drink- 
ing and dominoes, to kill the time till she should be free. 

After this I saw little of Bonnie Bell for two years. She had 
lost her place, of course ; but her husband could not starve, so 
she had to get work from a slop-shop, and slave all her waking 
hours to keep them in life. One day I was passing along 
Richmond Street, when a young woman passed me in tears, 
bearing a child wrapped in a shawl in her arms. She knew me, 
though I had forgotten her, and she slackened her pace to say — 

" Oh, Mr M'Govan, my bairn's awfu' ill, and I'm taking it 
round to the Dispensary. Doesn't it look awfu' queer?" 

And then I recognised Bonnie Bell. I held back the shawl 
for a moment to look into the pinched and pallid little face ; 
and my heart gave a pang as I noted the expression of the eyes 
and the dewy dampness of the temples. 

" It is not well," I guardedly answered. " You had better 
get there as soon as possible. See, I will go round with you. 
and get them to attend to you first." 



94 BONNIE BELL, THE MACHINIST. 

A shower of husky blessings rewarded me ; but when we got 
to the place the doctors only exchanged significant glances, and 
gravely told the poor mother that they could do nothing for the 
child. She could not believe it ; but even while she spoke the 
last change crept over the infant's face, and in a moment 01 
two her second born was lying dead in her arms. The doctors 
had some learned name for the trouble which had caused its 
death ; but it needed only a glance at the poor mother's 
wretched clothing and pinched features, to tell that poverty had 
been an important ally of disease. 

Poor Bell was in a dreadful state, and had to be taken home 
in a cab ; and then there was a poorhouse funeral, and her life 
flowed on much as before. She had still her first child, now a 
quick little thing of three years ; and as Simpson at times took 
a working fit, and helped her with the slop work at which she 
slaved, there were slight gleams of sunshine even in her obscure 
existence. One week her husband slaved with her every day, 
but then he made up for it by taking a burst of drinking which 
lasted till the Tuesday, and consumed a great deal more than 
he had earned. He went home then for more money, and as 
there was none to get he became frightfully quarrelsome. At 
last he took up a heavy board to fling at the woman who was 
toiling for him ; and the little girl, who had run in, as children 
will do, with the idea of protecting her mother, was struck with 
the hard missile on the back of the head. The child, after the 
first burst of crying, did not seem to be much hurt ; but next 
morning it did not get up promptly, as was its wont, saying 
feebly — 

''I'm goin' 'peep again, mammy; heady sair — heady sair, 
mammy." 

Lotions of vinegar and whisky produced no impression on 
the swelling, and before the day was over, the little thing 
startled her mother by saying — 

" No get better mammy — be shut in a box the morn." 

Poor Bell sat up the long night through sewing as for dear 
life, and soothing the child at intervals by carrying her about 
the room ; but Simpson was roused before morning by a 
dreadful commotion in the room, and blinkingly saw a neigh- 
bour trying to cover the dead child from its distracted mother's 
sight. 

A whisper of this affair somehow reached the Office, and the 
medical inspection of the child's body was such that I went 
after Simpson at once, and with great zest. 



BONNIE BELL, THE MACHINIST. 95 

There was no evidence, of course, that he had been the 
injurer of the child, or, indeed, that it had not merely fallen 
and fractured its own skull, but there was a firm impression 
that he was the guilty one ; and while I was away getting 
Simpson, in a half-fuddled condition, in his favourite public- 
house, another went along to question Bonnie Bell sharply as 
to the cause of her child's illness and death. 

Poor Bell was not in a fit state to be troubled much, or it is 
not unlikely she would have been arrested too, and in her 
terror and half-crazed condition, she firmly declared that the 
child had never been struck on the head, but had simply been 
weakly, and died a natural death. As soon as she was left 
alone, however, she went to a neighbour and learned that her 
husband had been taken away to the Head Office by M'Govan, 
and she at once took alarm. 

" He will come to me next, and question me till he gets me 
to swear away my man's life," she said ; and then she got back 
to hei own room, quite sure that her husband would be hanged 
for the crime, and as sure that he would escape if she only kept 
out of my way. 

"I wad like to have seen my bairn happit in the grund," she 
feverishly thought ; " but I maun get away frae here." 

Away, but whither? She knew of no hiding-place, and i! 
was more by instinct than reason that she turned her face in 
the direction of the hills of Fife — that instinct which prompts a 
wounded hare to make for its familiar form, or a bleeding bird 
to flutter towards its nest. Home ! early home — there would 
be the sea between us ; and away in a quiet hamlet, cradled in 
the hills, and far from any railway station : no detective, she 
thought, would ever look for her there. Bell kissed her dead 
child and glided out of the house, and in a few minutes was 
speeding towards Granton on foot. She paid her passage across 
to Burntisland, and then resumed her journey on foot. She 
had a shilling or two in her pocket, but was so much afraid of 
being seen or traced, that she avoided every house and spent 
the night in the open air. I am not sure if she ever thought 
of eating, but almost the only trace I got of her was when she 
was within six miles of her "home. She had sat down in sheer 
exhaustion opposite a cottage door; and the woman of the 
house, noticing her woe-begone look and marble face, brought 
out and offered her a cup of milk. Bell drank the milk 
mechanically, and then the woman looked round, and ventured 
to say, inquiringly — - 



96 BONNIE BELL, THE MACHINIST. 

"You have nae bairns ?' r 

"No, no — nae bairns," said Bonnie Bell, with a shivering 
sigh. " My airms are empty now." 

"Puir thing, and are ye gaun far?" feelingly continued the 
woman. 

" Hame — hame — hame," faintly answered Bell. " I'm 
weary — weary — weary o' the warld. I wish I was at the end 
o' the road."' 

So she moved off, and in three or four hours was slowly 
climbing the steep path to her home. When she at last caught 
sighf of the gay garden in front of the white row of cottages, 
the sun was setting redly behind Norman's Law, and in the 
doorway she saw her mother, grown more withered and grey, 
standing shading her eyes with her hand as she looked down at 
the stranger climbing the path. Bell went straight to the 
garden wicket, and walked slowly up to her mother, but was 
not recognised. 

" Well, my wuman, what dae ye want ? " said the old woman. 

"Oh, mither, mither ! dae ye no ken me? I'm Bell, come 
back — and, oh, I wish I ne'er had gaen awa' !" 

A storm of bitter reproaches would have been her greeting, 
but as Bell uttered the weary cry, she sank softly on her knees 
at the threshold, and when her father, who had beard the cry 
and recognised the voice, ran out to raise her, he found that she 
had fainted. They bore her into the house and tucked her in 
her mother's bed ; but when she recovered consciousness she 
was in a high fever, and would not let her father leave hei 
side. 

" Haud my hand, faither," she always said. " Haud it firm, 
for I feel as if I was slippin' awa' " 

When at last she fell into a troubled sleep, her father went a 
five-mile walk to the nearest doctor, and brought him back with 
him. The doctor apprehended nothing serious, but, of course, 
he could have no idea of all that Bonnie Bell had suffered. 
The next day, about the time when the doctor was to have 
called, I turned into the path winding up towards the cottages. 
I had got out at Cupar, and walked the rest of the distance, 
feeling so sure that I should find Bell at home, that the incident 
of the cup of milk, when I learned it, neither surprised nor 
elated me. 

Just as I appeared in sight, Bell's condition had become so 
alarming that the old man was at the door eagerly on the out- 
look for the doctor. 



BONNIE BELL, THE MACHINIST. 97 

" There he is at last," he cried, on sighting my figure. " No, 
it's no him either — it's a stranger." 

Bonnie Bell faintly raised her hand, saying in sudden 
terror — 

"It's M'Govan — I'm sure it'll be M'Govan, the detective. 
Oh, hide me, mither ! Say I'm no here; "then her strength 
gave way, and she sank back weakly in her mother's arms. 

I asked no questions at any of the cottages. I picked out 
the only beautiful and blooming garden in the row, and went 
at once to the door. 

I was so long of getting an answer to my knock, although I 
heard voices within, that at last I raised the latch and looked 
in. The old man was prostrate on the bed, and the mother, 
with streaming eyes, was bending over Bonnie Bell, and gently 
closing the drooping eyelids. I moved in unquestioned, with 
head uncovered in reverence and awe, and, I am not ashamed 
to say, tears springing to my own eyes as I looked down on 
the marble features of the dead girl, with all the careworn lines 
slowly vanishing from them, and something like her early 
sweetness and beauty dawning upon the still face. The 
intoxicating fragrance of summer flowers floated in at the open 
window ; but Bonnie Bell had gone where flowers are in ever- 
lasting bloom, and where tiny arms, eagerly outstretched, waited 
to cradle her weary head in endless peace. 

I said nothing of my mission ; did not even leave my name ; 
but left them with their sorrow, and returned the way I had 
come. 

Simpson eventually, when told of his wife's death, confessed 
all I have put down, and was sentenced to four months' 
imprisonment for manslaughter. He wept like a child when I 
told him of Bonnie Bell's last hours, and I put down his tears 
as the mere maudlin whinings of a drunkard, which would be 
forgotten, on bis release, at the first sight of a public-house, but 
in this I was mistaken. On his release he became a strong 
temperance man, both sober and diligent. He is in England 
now, and doing well, I believe ; and once he said to me when 
I met him, " It needed Bell to be taken from me to wake me 
from my sin." I could only sigh, and wish that the change had 
come sooner. 



f.G 



98 SPIRIT RAPPERS. 



SPIRIT RAPPERS. 

I happened to be in Glasgow when the chief sufferer in the 
following case called at the Office, and the lady accordingly was 
referred to M'Sweeny, with her account of the mysterious robbery 
which had brought her there. My chum, ever eager to distin- 
guish himself in my absence, obeyed the summons with theutmost 
alacrity, but became slightly damped in enthusiasm whenever the 
suspected thieves were indicated. The lady, whom I may name 
Mrs M'llwraith," had volubly and excitedly begun to describe 
how she had had a diamond locket and gold necklet stolen — 
the whole having cost her ^20 only a few weeks before— and 
then, when M'Sweeny inquired if she suspected any one of the 
theft, nearly made his hair stand on end by saying, with the 
utmost gravity — 

" I don't know any one who could have taken it. It must 
have been the spirits." 

"The — the wh — at?" stammered M'Sweeny, with a look of 
dismay. 

" The spirits," calmly repeated the lady. " My husband is 
a spiritualist, and we have been perfectly pestered with them 
ever since he made the discovery that he is a medium." 

"And what's a medium?" asked M'Sweeny, with lengthened 
visage. 

" It's one who is under the immediate control of spirits." 

"Drunk, ye mane?" hopefully suggested M'Sweeny. 

" No, no — in direct communication with the spirits of the 
dead," said the lady, impatiently. 

M'Sweeny started up as nimbly as if he had been touched 
with the brass handles of an electric machine. 

" Hush ! missis — don't spake of them," he breathed in 
horrified tones. " It's ghosts ye mane. Ye shouldn't have 
come to me wid this case. I'm not the man for ghosts ; ye should 
have gone to Jamie M'Govan, or waited till he came back 
from Glasgow. It's not my line, for betwixt the both of us, 
/ belave in them meself." 



SPIRIT RAPPERS. 99 

"Dear me!" exclaimed the lady, rather staggered, "and do 
you think they would actually bear off and keep a gold locket 
set with diamonds, and the necklet attached ?" 

" There's no botheration and mischief that they won't try," 
said M'Sweeny, reservedly, "but I never heard of them envy- 
ing any wan of their jewellery." 

" My husband tells me that they can lift a piano weighing 
ten hundredweight, and carry it upstairs easier than seven men 
men could carry it down," pursued the lady, half-convinced. 

"But did they steal the piano?" inquiringly continued 
M'Sweeny. 

" No — not that I'm aware of. You see, they've the run of 
all the pianos in the world, and can play them without even 
lifting the lids, so they have no incentive to stealing one." 

" That's me own thought exactly," said M'Sweeny, gathering 
courage. " Ghosts, or spirits, or whatever ye like to call them, 
is generally honest. They may give ye something, if it's only 
a pug in the ribs in the dark, or a carry through the clouds by 
the hair of the head while ye're asleep, but they don't steal. 
But what did your husband think of it ?" 

"That is the awkward thing," said the lady, flushing a little. 
" I dare not speak of it to him, because I bought the necklet 
with money which he gave me for very different purposes — 
charities, missions, and so forth. That's why I hesitated so 
long about informing the police of the robbery. Mrs Anson, a 
gifted lady medium, who has been staying with us for a few 
months, and who is sometimes controlled by the spirit of an 
African, tells me it has been taken by him as a rebuke to me 
for my dishonesty to his countrymen in buying it." 

"Oh, indeed!" said M'Sweeny, with fresh interest; "and 
was this lady with ye when the thing was stolen?" 

" Oh, yes, she is with us still. One day last week she was 
suddenly controlled — that is, she fell into a trance — and very 
soon this tormenting negro spoke through her, and said some- 
thing about jewellery, with a great deal of chuckling and 
laughing, which I couldn't understand at the time; and the 
same night, when I went to the drawer in which I had the 
trinket locked, it was gone." 

"Did anybody know it was kept there?" said M'Sweeny, 
again becoming awed. 

" Not a living soul — not even Mrs Anson. She knew I 
had bought it, and what it cost me, but beyond that nothing. 
J was very careful to put it where no one could get at it. The 



ioo SPIRIT RAPPERS. 

drawer was locked, and the jewel-case in which it lay was also 
locked. I found them locked, and not an article disturbed, 
but the locket and chain were gone. The marvellous thing is 
that my keys are never out of my possession, and the lock on 
that particular drawer is a Chubb, which I had specially fitted 
on for security, and could not be picked or opened with any 
but its own key." 

"Then you don't think that some rogue of a spirit — them 
kind that gives us plenty of work and fills all the jails — had 
whispered to this Mrs Anson to slip the thing into her own 
pocket?" 

"Oh, ridiculous! never!" was the emphatic reply. "Mrs 
Anson is a lady, and has more jewellery of "her own, all received 
in presents, than she has any need for— for she is so simple- 
minded and ignorant that she hardly understands what jewel- 
lery means, and seldom puts it on." 

"She will be rich, I suppose ?^— have a power of money of 
her own?" inquiringly pursued M'Sweeny. 

"Well, not a great deal. Her husband, I understand, had 
such a violent temper that they could not agree, and he treated 
her rather stingily when they separated; but she is a dear 
creature, and has so many friends that she need never want." 

" You said you were pestered by the spirits ?" said M'Sweeny, 
at last, becoming thoroughly mystified. " Have they played 
any other tricks on ye? or what did they do to pester you ?" 

" Always rap-rapping — mostly in the night-time, and worst 
in the wine-cellar. Mr M'llwraith only discovered that by 
accident when he chanced to go down to the cellar at a late 
hour one night, and found a perfect hurricane of knocks going 
on — all over the roof, and floor, and walls. Some nights it 
was worse than others; and it was only after he learned to read 
the knocks that he understood what it meant. Mrs Anson 
explained how a certain number of knocks meant a certain 
word, and then the rest was easy." 

" But they didn't do no mischief?" inquiringly pursued 
M'Sweeny. 

" Oh, yes, at times they did. Sometimes they would rap at 
the windows till the glass broke — we've had about a dozen 
large panes to replace; I've seen one smashed right in before 
my eyes, as if a stone had been dashed at it, yet when I looked 
out not a living soul was in sight, though I could see such a 
distance across the garden and fields as to make it impossible 
for any one to escape without being detected. And what was 



SPIRIT RA PPERS. i o i 



still more strange — no stone ever entered at the broken window. 
It was simply smashed in by an invisible hand, without a living 
being in sight but myself." 

" Did your friend, Mrs Anson, see the windows broke in ?" 
"No; her presence seemed to act as a charm for their 
protection. She generally came running down-stairs from her 
own room whenever she heard the smash occur, so there could 
not be the slightest suspicion of her being the mysterious 
breaker." 

M'Sweeny was thoroughly puzzled, and, I suspect, began to 
have mingled with the feeling a wholesome dread that the 
spirits, the moment he personally appeared on the scene to 
investigate, would turn their benevolent attentions to him. 
Mysterious beings who could lift pianos like mere feather 
weights, and smash windows, and spirit away diamonds and 
gold out of double-locked recesses, and go rapping along walls, 
yid roofs, and floors of cellars, till the whole seemed ready to 
totter and collapse, were not what he could call comfortable 
companions. He continued to question Mrs M'llwraith till 
he was sick of the whole case, but the more he questioned the 
greater grew his terror. Mrs M'llwraith was not exactly a 
believer in spirits, else she would never have put aside the 
advice of Mrs Anson and consulted us; but she had suffered 
enough from the mysterious tricks attributed to these roguish 
beings to make her half a convert. She candidly confessed 
that she would have been happier without their kind attentions, 
and that she would have much preferred the African to allow 
her to be sole judge of her own actions in buying and wearing 
the missing jewel; but there were the facts, and what could be 
made of them? M'Sweeny, it is true, made a great show of 
courage and indignation at the breaking of the windows, and 
said it was clearly an infringement of the law, and must be put 
a stop to at once; but in his heart I am certain he quaked as 
abjectly as a child cowering before its own shadow. Accord- 
ingly, he made arrangements at once to go out to the scene of 
the rappings — a great semi-detached villa at the Grange — one 
of those colossal modern buildings which one would have 
expected to be the least likely in the world to be troubled with 
perturbed spirits. If it had been an old building, as he after- 
wards remarked to me, with a horrible tradition of a comfort- 
able gory murder or suicide attached to it, he could have under- 
stood it all; but with a mere building got up to sell — a shoddy 
affair of sand and bricks, with a thin skin of showily polished 



io2 SPIRIT RAPPERS. 

stones — the experience was new. A detective, however, has no 
choice — he must go where glory waits him; and M'Sweeny 
arranged to visit Mrs M'llwraith's villa that day. 

In the afternoon, accordingly, he walked out to the Grange, 
and easily found the great house, the back windows of which 
at the time looked towards Blackford Hill without interruption 
of any kind. 

It was a showy place, having a coach-house attached, and a 
big garden and green behind, separated from that of the next 
house by a high paling of wood. When M'Sweeny arrived, the 
master of the house was not there, but he was introduced to 
the medium, Mrs Anson, who did not receive him very 
graciously, and held a long conversation in a remonstrative 
whisper with Mrs M'llwraith, evidently on the impropriety of 
calling him in. Mrs Anson appeared to be more mistress of 
the house than the lady who entertained her, and was a good- 
looking, neatly-dressed, and apparently accomplished woman 
as well. 

She took M'Sweeny in hand herself, and soon had him in a 
beautiful condition of terror and superstition, telling him tale 
after tale of the astounding feats of the spirits with herself — one 
of which was nothing less than that of carrying her up through 
two 6toreys of ceilings to a garret far above, without leaving as 
much as a pin-hole in her wake. A friend of hers had been 
carried by the spirits several miles, on a wet, iainy night, from 
one house to another without so much as feeling a drop of rain 
or a puff of wind — certainly a great improvement in quickness 
and comfort, to say nothing of cheapness, upon the common- 
place cab or tramway car. Altogether Mrs Anson impressed 
M'Sweeny with the idea that she was a wonderful woman, and 
I have no doubt would have sent him away much more mys- 
tified than when he went out, had it not chanced that while 
they were conversing the master of the house arrived. The 
moment his step and voice were heard in the hall, Mrs Anson 
and the lady of the house exchanged glances of concern; but 
before they could arrange any explanation, Mr M'llwraith 
entered the room. Then the mistress of the house, smiling 
sweetly, advanced towards her husband, introducing M'Sweeny 
with the words — 

"This is an old friend of mine — Mr M'Sweeny — an inquirer 
anxious to investigate, and if possible see something of, the 
doings of the spirits in our house." 

M'Sweeny favoured her with a woful glance of reproachful 



SPIRIT RAPPERS. 103 

astonishment, but was compelled to bow low and take the 
eagerly-proffered hand of the retired merchant. 

" Oh, I'm not particular though they don't manifest none," 
my chum hastened to say. " I'd — yis — I'd rather be furder 
away when they begin — 'cause, ye see, they moight — just by 
accident, of course — hit me instead of a wall, or break one of 
my legs instead of a window. I'm a pacable, quiet man, and 
would be the last to say a word agin any spirits — especially if 
they wor good Campbeltown ones, at three-and-sixpence a 
bottle." 

Mr M'llwraith was delighted, and hastened to say that the 
spirits M'Sweeny had so slyly alluded to would be forthcoming 
in any quantity, his cellar having been lately stocked with the 
best that money could supply. It was M 'Sweeny's easy 
credulity and inquiring spirit that took the merchant by storm ; 
and my chum soon found that if he only believed every wonder 
described by his host, there was nothing that Mr M'llwraith 
possessed that he might not freely command. M'Sweeny was 
forced to stay and dine with them; after which, in the course 
of the evening, the retired merchant took him down to his 
cellar, and showed him where the most wonderful manifestations 
and rappings had taken place. The cellar was a dingy hole, 
in the basement of the building, having a few barrels of beer 
and claret and one of whisky at one side, and a number of 
bottles of champagne and other wines neatly stacked at the other. 

"Now, then, Mr M'Sweeny, I think I can suit you," said the 
elated host, tapping suggestively with his knuckles on one of 
the barrels. "Will you have a glass of spirits ?" 

" Is it ghosts or whisky ye want me to drink ?" dubiously 
inquired my chum. 

" Real Campbeltown whisky — twelve year's old if it's a day 
I got the barrel in only a mouth or two ago." 

"Would a duck like swimmin' in a pond of wather?" said 
M'Sweeny, brightening up and smacking his lips; and a big 
glass was accordingly produced and filled at the tap — rather a 
slow process, as the whisky appeared to flow in a very tiny 
dribble, in spite of repeated blowings and tappings from its 
owner. 

"Something has got into the tap, I'm afraid," said Mr 
M'llwraith in passing, as he handed the brimming glass to my 
chum, who drained it to the last delicious drop, and 
pronounced it, with truth in all probability, the finest he had 
tasted for many a year. 



io 4 SPIRIT RAPPERS. 

It is possible that he may have drunk more than one glass, 
but at all events his courage began to rise, and a wholesome 
spirit of scepticism to take the place of his former superstitious 
awe; and when Mr M'llwraith pointed out the part of the dusty 
wall most infested by the spirit rappings, he nearly caused his 
entertainer to faint, by coolly suggesting that the noise might 
have been caused by the people in the next villa moving about 
in their cellar. 

" Oh, that is impossible; for the fact is, the occupants of the 
next villa are teetotallers, and never use their cellar," was the 
grave reply. "No, no; it is simply that I am a medium, and 
am followed everywhere, and see spirits and talk with the dead 
oftener than I do with the living." 

u I wanst had a hand in the ketching of a medium — ahem ! 
I mane I was present at a table-rapping business," observed 
M'Sweeny, alluding to an incident already recorded by me; 
"but the medium there was a regular imposter — tried to stab a 
particular friend of mine, after making the table tell some 
awful whoppers; but you haven't got to make your bread by it, 
and I don't understand it with you. I'm thinking imagination 
goes a long way." 

" Will you believe it if you hear the manifestations yourself?" 
said Mr M'llwraith, with undamped enthusiasm. 

" Here, you mane?" inquired my chum, with a loving glance, 
I suspect, in the direction of the whisky barrel. 

" Yes, here — will you stay down here till about ten and hear 
for yourself?" 

M'Sweeny hastened to say that he would stay there all night 
if the other would allow him; and thus it was arranged. The 
evening passed pleasantly upstairs, where the most extra- 
ordinary stories of ghost seeing and second sight were poured 
into M'Sweeny by Mrs Anson and the retired merchant; and 
then, after supper, he and his host again descended to the 
cellar, in which they sat in solemn silence for nearly an hour. 
At eleven o'clock Mr M'llwraith, to whom spirit rappings were 
so common an occurrence as not to excite great interest, said 
he would retire, and, much to M'Sweeny's concern, he did 
leave the cellar; after which the little courage possessed by my 
chum slowly and surely evaporated. Possibly he would have 
fortified himself from the barrel, but Mr M'llwraith had taken 
the key of the tap with him. About twelve o'clock, when the 
whole house was still as the grave, M'Sweeny started up in his 
chair and listened, looking gravely and incredulously round the 



SPIRIT RAPPERS. 105 

cellar, with his hair almost rising on end as he did so Pie 
heard a sound, the distinct sound of footsteps, but whether it 
was above him or under him he could not tell. The only 
thing he knew was that they were near him — so uncomfortably 
near that he half expected to feel the breath of the invisible 
walker on his face. The feet seemed to walk straight across 
the floor, with a hollow, cavernous sound, and to pause in front 
of the barrel in which M 'Sweeny had taken so deep an interest. 
Then there was a sound like the putting down of a big can on 
the brick floor in front of the barrel, at which M 'Sweeny was 
now staring with distended eyes, then the distinct sound of the 
turning of a tap, and then the musical guggling of whisky 
flowing from the tap and falling noisily into the can ! All this 
seemed to take place before my scared comrade's eyes — right 
under his nose, in fact — yet the sawdust on the floor was not 
so much as ruffled by the footsteps, the tap seemed unturned, 
and no can or flowing whisky was to be seen, rub his eyes, or 
pinch himself, or desperately tug at his hair, as he liked! 

"Good Lord above us! what does it mane?" he thought, 
with a deathly sweat breaking out over his body, and making 
a feeble attempt to rise on his shaking legs. " There's some- 
thing in it after all. Can it be possible that spirits are fond of 
spirits, and are carrying away some to have a wake somewheres 
— somewheres over beyant there where they live ? Sure, I 
can't be drunk or draining — all that I tasted is out of me head 
hours ago. Faix, the sooner I'm out of here the better." 

Still unwilling to make an ignominious flight, and half 
suspicious that the sounds came from below the floor, he got 
hold of a long spigot and prized up one of the bricks of the 
floor, with the discovery that below there was nothing but the 
damp earth. Then he replaced the brick and scrambled out 
of the cellar as quickly as possible. He was poking about in 
the room above, which happened to be the scullery, bearing 
the lantern which he had brought from the cellar, when Mr 
MTlwraith appeared, and heard his story with a satisfied 
smile. 

"My dear sir, you need not trouble to search for them — I 
did so too at first, but they are not to be found," that gentle- 
man hastened to assure him. 

Still loth to give in, M'Sweeny said — 

" Mebbe it might have been some one in the green behind. 
By your lave, I'll go out and have a look round." 

This was at once agreed to, Mr MTlwraith only telling him 



106 SPIRIT RAPPERS. 

to do so as quickly as possible, as the ladies and servants were 
all in bed. 

The outer door at the back was locked and bolted from 
within. These fastenings M'Sweeny undid, while Mr 
M'llwraith retired to his books by the parlour fire. 

Outside there was neither moon nor stars ; and every window 
behind in both villas being in darkness, M'Sweeny, who had 
intentionally left the lantern behind, had to grope his way, 
after softly closing the door behind him. Scarcely had he 
gone thus two yards from the house when he was struck a 
violent blow between the shoulders — a heavy, hard blow, as 
from a fist of iron, and he jumped round with a loud and 
angry— 

"What the divil do you mane? — why! — what! there's 
nobody there!" 

He stood there groaning and squirming, trying in vain to 
get at the injured place with his hands, which I can testify 
was next day not only swollen, but nearly all the colours of the 
rainbow, and peering blankly at the closed door outside of 
which he had fully expected to see his assailant. M'Sweeny's 
feelings at the moment cannot be described by me, as this part 
of his narrative was incoherent and vague. I suspect, however 
he dropped — that his trembling legs gave way, and that foi 
some moments he was cowering in abject terror on the damp 
ground, uttering in all probability the most piteous entreaties 
for mercy, and promises of less scepticism in future. At length, 
however, seeing that the attack was not repeated, he again 
turned to explore the green and garden, and had satisfied him- 
self beyond doubt that no hidden assailant lurked within its 
walls, when, as suddenly as he had before been nearly knocked 
over with the invisible iron fist, a hand seemed to descend 
from above with a sharp thud on his hat, to grasp it in its 
invisible claws, and lift it bodily from his perspiring scalp. 
With a shout of terror M'Sweeny glanced up, and saw his hat 
sailing steadily and majestically up into the darkness, with 
neither wind nor hand touching it; and then, with a shriek that 
no ghost could have excelled, he turned from the haunted 
house, dashed at the six-foot fence of the garden, scaled it like 
a monkey, and in a moment was flying, as fast as legs could 
carry him, through the Grange in the direction of his own 
home. How he got home and spent the night does not appear, 
but he had both a lengthened face and a wonderful story to 
lay before me next morning. 



SPIRIT RAPPERS. 107 

"The house is haunted or bewitched!" was his serious re- 
mark in concluding. " Begorra, I wouldn't be surprised if it 
was carried off in blue fire some night; for them spirits or 
ghosts is moighty strong, as you'll admit if you unbutton me 
shirt and look at my shoulder. There's no human hand could 
lave a mark like that." 

I looked at the bruise and grinned callously; but I was really 
more puzzled than I cared to show. That there was some 
clever jugglery in the whole case I had not the slightest doubt, 
but that I would be able to lay bare the tricks was not so 
certain. 

I went out to the Grange at once, and was introduced to 
Mrs M'llwraith and her dear companion, Mrs Anson. What 
Mrs M'llwraith told me did not tend to enlighten me much; 
but, astonishing to relate, while I was busy conversing with hei 
close to the window of the room into which I had been shown, 
the thick plate glass forming the lower half of the window sud- 
denly crashed inwards in a hundred fragments without any 
appearance of a missile having caused the smash. I rushed to 
the window. There was no one in the green or garden below. 
I ran down, and through the scullery, only to find the door fast 
locked and barred, as it had been, I was told, from the moment 
that M'Sweeny's flight had been discovered. I ran up again 
and was met by the servant, who had been working in some of 
the upper rooms, and Mrs Anson, who, with uplifted hands, 
exclaimed — 

(- I heard a crash — it is surely not another of the windows 
broken?" 

Now, if there is anything more dangerous than another, it is 
over-acting a part. Mrs Anson, it seemed to me, was over- 
doing her ignorance. Any one with ears in their head could 
have said a hundred yards off that a window had been smashed, 
and yet here was she affecting wonder and artless inquiry. I 
distrusted the woman from that moment. 

But how had the window been broken? that was what con- 
cerned and puzzled me most. No missile had been projected 
into the room, or found in the green below; the glass had cer- 
tainly not been broken from within, for it had been done in my 
presence, and yet it was broken. My only solution of the 
difficulty was a suspicion that it might have been broken from 
above. But how? That was more than I could decide at the 
moment. Disguising my suspicions, I managed to get Mrs 
Anson to descend to the garden and green to make a narrow 



ioS SPIRIT RAPPERS. 

search for any hidden assailant or missile; and the moment she 
was outside, I coolly locked the back door and ran up-stairs, 
past the dining room, up to the room occupied by Mrs Anson, 
which I had ascertained was directly above the room in which 
the window had been broken. The door was locked! With- 
out a moment's hesitation I threw my whole weight against the 
door and burst it inwards. My first discovery was a nail in the 
centre of the wooden window sill, for which there was appar- 
ently no use; then I turned out everything that was loose, 
knowing I had but a minute or two to work in, and at length 
came upon a heap of strong whip cord in a tin hat box, into 
which it had evidently been bundled in rough haste; near one 
end of the cord was a running loop, and at the other was a 
stone weighing five pounds, firmly secured. When the loop 
was slipped on to the nail head in the window, and the stone 
projected violently outwards, I found that the cord was exactly 
of a length to bring back the stone with a tremendous thud on 
the shattered window. Nor was that all; for in turning out a 
drawer I came upon another long cord, to which was attached 
a heavy-handled carving fork. What this was designed for I 
could not at first divine, till a subsequent search in a locked 
drawer revealed M 'Sweeny's spirited-away hat, crushed out of 
all shape, and having two holes in its crown, which exactly 
matched the two prongs of the heavy fork, which had simply 
been dropped clown on it with unerring force, stuck into it, 
and borne it off into the darkness, to the horror of the wearer. 
Other contrivances I discovered, the use of which I could not 
conjecture, but these two chiefly interested me, and when 1 
showed them to Mrs M'llwraith, she had no hesitation in 
allowing me to take the cunning dissembler with me. Mrs 
Anson, now hammering loudly at the back door, was admitted 
by me, and nearly tore my eyes out in return for my activity 
I got her to the Office in a cab, where she was at once locked 
up ; and then I had the most difficult part of my task to begin 
— namely, the tracing of the missing jewel. I fully expected 
to have found the trinket among Mrs Anson's magpie-like 
stores, but I did not. It was only when I found that she had 
been in the habit of visiting some poor friend in the Cross- 
causeway that I came on the real clue. The friend there I soon 
ascertained was a drunken husband, a blind man, who never- 
theless had been able to find his way to a pawnbroker's with 
the stolen jewel. So I took him too, and plainly informed him 
on the way to the Office that the jewel had not been a present 



SPIRIT RAPPERS. 109 

to his wife, as he insisted, but was stolen, and that he would 
probably be saved the trouble of journeying to the public-house 
for many a month to come. 

Only one mystery remained unsolved — namely, the spirit- 
rappers in the cellar. I went out to look after them, and after 
some investigation chanced to hammer the whisky barrel with 
my fist, when it gave out such a hollow sound that I insisted 
to its owner that it could not be full of good spirits, as he 
alleged, but must be nearly empty. To prove it, I moved the 
barrel single-handed, but it did not come away from the wall 
without an ominous cracking, and when we looked behind we 
found some of the bricks dislodged, and running through them 
a tin pipe, which had broken off in moving the barrel. To 
move round to the next villa did not take many minutes, more 
especially when Mr M 'II wraith had proved that his barrel of 
whisky was nearly empty. The coachman in the next villa 
insisted that the cellar had not been entered since he came to 
the house, and that the key was lost; but we broke in the door, 
and found ample evidence that it had been entered but lately, 
in a keg or two of Mr M'llwraith's whisky, and the tap by 
which it had been run off still protruding from the disjointed 
bricks. 

I took the coachman with me, and found the key of the 
cellar in his pocket when I got to the Office. It appeared that 
he had not only been liberal in giving bottles of whisky to his 
friends, but had actually arranged to sell a quantity to a dealer 
at a cheap rate, saying very truly that it was " illicit." 

Mr M'llwraith looked exceedingly sheepish at the trial, and 
appeared to enjoy the incessant laughter least of any one pre- 
sent. Mrs Anson, the cunning adventuress, and her blind 
husband, got each nine months' imprisonment, while the coach- 
man — the real spirit rapper — got off with six. 

M'Sweeny got back his hat, and used to be sympathetically 
asked if the rain didn't get in at the two holes left by the claws 
of the demon spirit that bore it away. Of course, the violent 
blow on the back from the invisible iron fist was nothing but a 
thud from the five-pound stone let down on him by the 
ingenious medium, Mrs Anson, from above. 



no UNCLAIMED MONEY. 



UNCLAIMED MONEY. 

"Yo-ho! yo-ho! yo-ho!" in a regular sailor's shout, came 
pealing up the stairs leading to the " reception room" at the 
Central Office, one afternoon in summer; and we all started 
round in surprise, and feeling much as if a pure whiff from the 
briny deep had suddenly been wafted to our stifling quarters. 

Following the shout came a burly and rather handsome sea- 
man, in first mate's go-ashore dress, smiling all round with the 
utmost good-humour, and evidently blissfully unconscious in 
his simplicity of having disturbed officials at their work. The 
man was a shaggy, powerful fellow, some years under forty, and 
though not drunk, had evidently drawn some of his jollity and 
friendliness from the bottle. 

" Morning, mates — morning to you all! — glad to see you, if 
I'm in the right bunk," he said, saluting us generally with a 
beaming look before which scowls were bound to vanish. " I 
want to see that detective chap as writes the book. It's him I 
want — none o' your common ones for me. I want to clap my 
eyes on him, and speak to him particular — on business." 

" D'ye mane Jamie there, or me?" inquiringly interposed 
M'Sweeny, with some eagerness. " To be sure he had the 
writing down of the things, but, begor, it's meself that figures 
most in it. I'm M'Sweeny." 

" No, it ain't you — it's the real detective chap — the one that 
licks you all — the one that wrote the book," said the sailor, 
with steady persistence and unflattering frankness. " You're 
no use but to get him into trouble, and get awful wallopings 
and ropes-endings— oh, I read about you, and I'm not to be 
cheated that way. Fact is, I'm awful fly — I'm about the fliest 
A. B. afloat or ashore, and they'd be very smart chaps that 
would do me." 

" It's Jamie M'Govan you mean," said the sergeant, as 
M'Sweeny moved back somewhat precipitately. "Well, that's 
him, over there." 

The sailor advanced towards me, and dubiously and wonder- 



UNCLAIMED MONEY. n: 

ingly extended his hand, and at last exclaimed, in manifest 
surprise — 

" Well — I'm — blowed ! You're just like an ordinary man." 

" So I am an ordinary man," I laughingly observed, after 
rescuing my crushed fingers from his tremendous grip. 

" Hold hard there — I can't allow that, you know," he deter- 
minedly returned. "You ain't an ordinary man; fact, it's a 
regular crammer to say so, but you're not what I expected to 
see for all that. I thought you'd be a reg'lar swell, with white 
kid gloves on, and lots of starch and black clothes. Are you 
sure you're M'Govan?" 

" Quite sure." 

" Well, well, and I'm a holding on to the hand that wrote 
that book as we all piped our eyes over, last voyage?" he 
reflectively observed, with another dive at my squeezed fingers. 
"We read your book, turns about, when we'd nothing to do, 
and sometimes it took two on us to finish a story — got kinder 
choked up, ye know. I'd like to see Sparrow, too, that poor 
lad that made the awful fight to keep square, but I s'pose he 
ain't about?" 

I replied that Sparrow was no longer a lad, but a prosperous 
man years ago, and that even I had not seen him for years; 
and then, as he had spoken of coming to see me on business, I 
added inquiringly — 

"I suppose you've got into trouble since you came ashore? 
— gone and lost your money or your watch, or something?" 

"You think so?" he returned with great glee and exultation. 
"You, the fly detective, think I've been done? Well, that's 
good!" and he had a delighted slap at his thigh. "You're 
wrong, for I've got every blessed stiver of it here — my own pay 
and grannie's money — all in this bag;" and he quickly produced 
a canvas bag, such as they use in banks for silver, and gave it a 
huge rattle, which convinced every one within hearing that it 
contained a good sum in solid coin of the realm. " And look 
here;" and still more gleefully he produced a massive gold 
chronometer, which he pulled out much as he would have 
pulled out his rope knife, at the end of a bit of common twine, 
and shoved bodily into my hands for inspection. " Now, ain't 
I a downy one? There they are safer than the bank, and that's 
just what brought me here." 

"How? what do you mean?" 

" I want you to take care on them for me," he said, with the 
most perfect reliance. " I'm going to knock about among old 



ii2 UNCLAIMED MONEY 

friends, and when I get too much beer in my head, I just throw 
my money away, that's a fact, so I brought it to you." 

I was staggered, and not sure whether to look grave or 
amused. 

" Really," I began, in gentle demur, " that is not quite in mv 
line." 

" Oh yes, it is," he confidently returned. " You're Al at 
holding on to things — see? so you'll be the safest man to take 
care on my shiners." 

"It would be better in the bank," I suggested. "Take it 
there and get a deposit receipt for it, and it'll bear interest." 

"Get along! Interest be blowed! and banks failing every 
day! No, thankee — I've just took it out of the bank," he 
replied, with a look of great penetration. " Drawed the money 
there that my poor old granny left me — ^200, all in gold; they 
couldn't cheat me with their bits of printed paper — not them. 
I'm too precious fly for them. They wanted back this bag, too, 
but I chucked them a shilling, and said the bag was the very 
thing I needed to hold it in — nice an' handy, you see, with a 
string at the top to tie it up with." 

" But haven't you any friends that you could leave it with?" 
I persisted, in some surprise. 

"No friends now — all dead — slipped their cables," he 
answered, with some emotion. "Father went years ago,- 
mother followed; and poor old granny, that doted on me, 
slipped away last voyage. Sweetheart, that I was quite built 
up on — as pretty a lass as you ever set eyes on — blooming and 
bright as peach on a tree — died five years ago. See that ring?" 
and he held up a stumpy finger, with a mourning ring on, for 
my inspection. " That's for her memory — poor, sweet Kitty — 
dear lass — dead and gone ! " and he put up the stumpy brown 
finger to knuckle out a tear. "No; you're the only friend that 
I knows on — a kinder people' s friend" he added, pulling himself 
together again with an effort, "so you're the safest hand I can 
trust my money with." 

I still hesitated; and during the moment or two's silence 
which ensued, I turned the watch over in my hand, and noticed 
on the back the letters "J. B.," with a large anchor engraved 
between the initials. 

"That was an idea of my own," he observed, indicating the 
letters and anchor. " J. B." stands for me, Jim Brennan, and 
the anchor means that the watch is anchored to me — never to 
be give away, or sold, or that, 'Twas my father's sea-going 



UNCLAIMED MONEY 113 

watch — a thirty guinea one — so I'm kind of set on it. Now 
that I think on it, though, I'll take the watch with me ; I can 
stick to it firm enough. It's the shiners that bother me to 
keep, now that I haven't Kitty to dream on or save for. 
Nothing like a true, loving heart and a pair o' bright eyes tp 
keep Jack straight." s 

He slung back his watch by the string; but the bag of 
money he would not take, or even touch. 

" No; you take care on it, and I'll be back afore I go aboard 
for next voyage, and take it then, and stow it away in my sea- 
chest. None o' them land-sharks can get at it here, see? 
My, ain't I a downy one to bring it here ; fly as — as a 
detective? Fact, I believe I'd beat you at that, if I tried;" 
and the great simple fellow chuckled himself purple in the face 
at the thought, and then proceeded to shake hands with us all 
round, in joyous satisfaction at having got a weight off his 
mind, as well as out of his pocket, before taking leave. 

"Hadn't you better count it before you go?" I suggested, 
still puzzled with the novel trust. 

" No need for that — them bank chaps never makes a mis- 
take," he carelessly answered. "It's kepp out of their wages 
if they do. I've took ten out for my pocket, and you'll look 
arter the rest. See, I'll put a sailor's knot, that never slips, in 
the string; there, it's safer than if it was shut up in an iron 
press. Good arternoon, the whole on you ; good arternoon !" 
and away he went, with his rolling gait, and easy, good-natured 
smile, quite satisfied that he had done a clever thing, while 
the bag of sovereigns was put away in a place of safety, along 
with other articles of value, awaiting claiming by their owners. 

Of course, I fully expected that, after a few days, Jim 
Brennan would reappear, cleaned out, and somewhat less 
good-natured, and claim his bag of money; but in that I was 
disappointed. Not one week, but many went by, and yet the 
bag of money lay untouched and unsought for. Nor did the 
circumstance either surprise or alarm me. I had no idea that 
any calamity had overtaken him, and simply concluded that 
he had gone off to sea again — perhaps too hastily to be able to 
call at the Central — and left me guardian of his money, believ- 
ing the Police Office safer than a bank. I might have forgotten 
the curious circumstance, but for an incident which recalled 
the trust, and at the same time roused in me an eager wish to 
learn more of my eccentric depositor. In looking oyer some 
pledged jewellery at a pawnbroker's on the Bridge, in search 
s. c. E 



ri 4 UNCLAIMED MONEY. 

of a ring that was reported stolen, I came upon a gold chrono- 
meter, more carefully secured and packed in the safe than its 
neighbours. A chance remark about its massiveness and 
beauty elicited the statement that the watch was an unusually 
valuable one, and that they had advanced p£io upon it. I 
took the watch in my hand, turned it over, and then caught 
sight of an anchor engraved in the centre of the engine-turning, 
with the initials " J. B." planted on either side of the emblem 
of hope. 

" Dear me, I've surely seen this watch before ? " I said, for 
the moment puzzled ; and then I remembered the sailor, and 
recognised the watch perfectly as his. 

The pawnbroker, fearing a loss, began to look concerned 
indeed while I opened the case and examined it closely; yet 
it was not any curiosity to see the inside of either case or 
watch, or the number of the watch, that prompted the action. 
While I had been examining the back of the case, something 
like a crimson line running for fully an eighth of an inch along 
the edge caught my eye, and on pressing the spring I found 
what looked very like a dried trickle of blood running a short 
distance in from the edge, as if blood had been there, and in 
spite of the close fitting joint of the case had percolated in a 
little before being wiped away outside. Still, I cannot say 
that even then I felt much concern or alarm. The sailor 
might have cut his finger, and in touching the watch stained 
its case slightly. The thing which did concern me, however, 
was to find the watch in a pawnshop — the valued instrument 
which he had told me was "anchored to him," never to be 
parted with or sold. I knew that it had not gone there 
through any want of money on his part, for he had nothing 
to do under such circumstances but come up to the Office and 
claim that which he had left there ; and I felt certain that a 
man of his tender nature and feeling heart would part with 
such a gift under only the greatest pressure. My inference, 
then, was, that Brennan had been robbed, and that by some 
very unusual freak of chance the stolen watch had found its 
way to the pawnbroker's instead of the fence's. I therefore 
inquired very promptly for the name and address of the person 
who had pawned the chronometer. These were at once given; 
but they proved fictitious. The man who had pawned the 
watch had presented certain peculiarities of manner and dress, 
however, which both the pawnbroker and his assistant were 
able to describe, and by these I imagined I recognised a kind 



UNCLAIMED MONEY. 115 

of nondescript — neither a thief nor an honest man — known as 
Griddler Bob ; a man who chanted dismal songs on the street 
on wet or drizzling days ; who begged, and lied, and dodged 
his way through life, with just enough cunning to keep Well 
out of my way. I thought proper to take the chronometer to 
the Office with me, pending inquiries ; and then I found 
Griddler Bob, and took him up to the pawnbroker's for identi- 
fication, with indifferent success. The people there both 
thought he was the man who had pawned the watch, but 
would not swear to him ; and Bob himself, when I appealed 
to him for information, swore most energetically that he know 
nothing of the watch, or its owner, or its history. He had 
never had such a valuable in his possession as long as he had 
lived. It struck me that the Griddler had looked too much 
scared on being taken to the pawnshop, and that he was alto- 
gether too voluble in his defence for me quite to credit his 
innocence; but there was really no charge lodged against him 
or any one, and of course we had to let him go. The little 
trickle of blood, which I pointed out to Bob for explanation, 
and which appeared to disconcert him more than any of my 
other questions, pointed to no fresh clue. Its history remained 
untold, and I had patiently to wait for fresh clues, hoping thus 
to get at the solution of the mystery. 

A month or two later, I was going down Leith Street, when 
I saw a burly-looking seaman — whom I imagined I recognised 
at a glance as Jim Brennan — crossing the street towards me. 
I paused, to allow him to approach and recognise me; and in 
a moment our eyes met. 

I expected his broad, kind face to expand instantly in delight 
and pleasure; but what was my surprise to see his full-coloured 
face instantly become blank with dismay, and then livid with 
terror, and the moment after to see him turn and dash down 
the street with the speed of a man running for life. I followed 
him swiftly, though not at a desperate pace, as I was really 
curious to learn what had induced him to leave the money so 
long unclaimed, as well as to get from him some account of 
how he had been forced to part with his much-prized chrono- 
meter ; but for once I was out-distanced with ease. 

Brennan, or at least the man I had startled, vanished down 
the Low Calton towards Leith Wynd, and I saw him no more. 
More puzzled than ever, but sure that I had not made a mis- 
take, and anxious to get at him while he was home from sea, I 
inserted an advertisement in two daily papers, to~the effect thai 



u 6 UNCLAIMED MONEY. 

" James Brennan, seaman, was requested to call on Detective 
M'Govan, at his earliest convenience, on a matter of import- 
ance ; " but the money appeared to be thrown away, for no 
Jim Brennan appeared. 

All this time I had had little doubt that the Griddler had 
pawned the watch ; but the very fact that he had done so — 
probably intending to sell the ticket also for a good sum — 
implied a confidence against results that annoyed me con- 
siderably. If the chronometer had been forcibly taken from 
its owner by Bob, it must have been in some unusual way, or 
it would have gone to a fence's, instead of being boldly shown 
right under our noses. It was that puzzler which excited my 
interest most, and now to it was added the curious circum- 
stance that the sailor appeared to dread me, and get out of my 
way as nimbly as if he had been one of my own " bairns." 
That there might be a connection between the two circum- 
stances, I must confess, never for a moment struck me. 

The next time I met the sailor it was under tantalizing 
circumstances, for he was driving west in a cab along Princes 
Street, while I was going east after a newly arrived swell mobs- 
man, who did not know me. and whom I was anxious to get 
out of harm's way, before he had time to do much mischief. 

I was sure of the sailor's face, though it vanished swiftly from 
the cab window the moment the eyes lighted on me, but I 
decided to follow the pickpocket as more legitimate game. As 
soon as I had collared him in the act and handed him over to 
one of the staff and the man on the beat, I went west to the 
Railway Station, and easily discovered that a seaman answering 
Brennan's description had taken ticket for Glasgow, and left by 
train not fifteen minutes before my arrival. I at once telegraphed 
to Johnny Farrel to go and meet him, and try to follow him, as 
I had no authority to detain or arrest him, merely to satisfy my 
curiosity; but though Johnny did meet and follow him, he had 
lost him somewhere on the way to the river, and upon my 
arrival with the next train had nothing but apologies for his 
stupidity to offer. I stayed in Glasgow all night, and next day 
went out on the hunt, and chanced to catch sight of Brennan 
coming out of a shipping- office near the river. Again the 
frightful look of dismay and pallor crossed his face, and again 
a swift dart and terrific race placed him far beyond my reach, 
and, breathless but unsatisfied, I slowly made my way back to 
the office which I had seen him leaving. This was not an easy 
matter, as in my haste I had taken little note of the name or 



UNCLAIMED MONEY. 117 

locality; but when I did find the place I thought my chase was 
at an end, for I was there shown the articles which Brennan 
had signed, binding him to sail with an Australian liner then 
lying in the harbour, and to join the ship that very evening. 
To give him time to be aboard, I delayed my visit till dusk; 
and then, accompanied by Johnny Farrel, who had become as 
interested in the case as myself, I went aboard and confronted 
him. With the first glance at my face he uttered a cry of 
terror, and would have dashed past us for the Broomielaw, but 
seeing Johnny and myself with arms quickly outstretched to 
intercept him, he wavered and turned, and, before we could 
anticipate or prevent, he had rushed to the opposite taffrail, 
clambered up, and with one great jump vanished into the dark 
river. The startled crew and we at once ran to the ship's side 
to peer over in hope of seeing him rise, and very quickly a boat 
was lowered; but he was not seen, and it was feared, by me at 
least, that he had been carried away by the outflowing tide and 
stream and drowned. From this fear I was joyfully relieved 
next day, when I was taking out a ticket for Edinburgh at the 
railway station, by seeing him pass the station at a brisk pace, 
seemingly not a bit the worse of his immersion. We sighted 
each other at the same moment, bvt this time I was determined 
not to lose him. He did run, and no mistake ! but I got him 
at last; and with two policemen and the crowd who had joined 
me, surrounded and pintfed him beyond the chance of 
escape. 

"What on earth has induced you to avoid me?" was my first 
remark when I was able to pant out a word. " Why, Brennan, 
ivhat were you afraid of?" 

" My name isn't Brennan. You've mistook me for some one 
else," he tremulously answered; and I really began to fear that 
he was speaking the truth, till I found that he could give no 
satisfactory reason for avoiding me by such desperate expe- 
dients. He pleaded so hard to be let go, that I began to 
suspect he had done something to deserve being detained, and 
with a great show of authority, though with difficulty repressing 
a smile, I insisted on him accompanying me to the Police Office. 
Then he collapsed helplessly, and said — 

" I admit I'm Jim Brennan, Mr M'Govan, but I can swear it 
was all an accident. I didn't mean to touch him, far less let 
his life out with the knife." 

"With the knife? touch whom?" I amazedly echoed. 

"Why, that singing chap that tried to get my watch," he 



n8 UNCLAIMED MONEY. 

frankly answered, wiping the thick drops of perspiration from 
his forehead at the recollection. 

" Oh, the watch? Yes ; it was about that I wanted to see you; 
tell rne all about that, and then I'll see what I can do for you." 

"You will?" he eagerly exclaimed, with an intense relief that 
was almost touching to behold. " Gi' me your hand;" but 1 
had given him my hand on a former occasion, and, having 
some regard for fhe safety of my bones, politely evaded the 
warm grasp of his vice-like fist. 

As soon as we reached the Glasgow Central, he, with a 
piteous earnestness that called many a smile to my lip, told his 
story. 

" I met some jolly fellows after I left my money with you," 
he said, " and as they would stand treat, why I treated them 
back, till I was pretty tight, I can tell you. I don't know where 
it was that I was drinking with them, but one of them — a bald- 
headed chap, very soft spoken and red about the nose — axed 
me to lend him my watch to see what time it was." 

" That was the man who sang songs, wasn't it?" I observed, 
having recognised in the few expressive words a life-like portrait 
of my esteemed acquaintance, Griddler Bob. 

"Al at singing," returned Brennan, with enthusiasm, "but 
I didn't see through letting him get his fins on my watch. 
Then he tried to take it when I got it out to tell him the time 
— fact I believe he did get it out of my hand, but I can't 
remember it all exactly as it happened, and then I out with my 
knife, and told him pretty sharp that if he didn't hand it over, 
I'd rip him with the knife." 

"And he gave it up?" 

" No, he didn't; so I at him with tTu knife," and Brennan shud- 
dered and paled at the thought. " I'm peaceable and good- 
natured if I'm let alone, but the darned thief was taking away 
my watch, and the drink kinder maddened me. There was an 
awful lot of squealing among the wimen folks, and they got him 
away from me at last, but not till I had done for him with the 
knife." 

"Killed him, you mean?" I echoed, with much surprise. 

" Nigh about it. He was bleeding plenty, and they carried him 
off, and a short time after, one of them as was kinder friendly 
to me come to me and whispered to me to come and see him. 
He was lying in a bed with a face as white as the sheets, and 
his eyes rollin' in his head. He was gasping out his last breath, 
in fact. I was mighty concerned, and tried to get him to say 



UNCLAIMED MONEY. 119 

I wasn't to blame, but he was past speaking. They took me 
out of the room, and I think I had more drink; but after a bit 
one o' them came to me and said he was dead, and that one of 
them was away up to the Office to report, and to bring down 
M'Govan, the detective. ' What am I to do?' I says; and they 
whispered, as friendly as you like, ' Get out of the way and 
keep there, for M'Govan is a man that won't be beat, though he 
had to follow you to the other side of the world.' I know'd it 
was time, and I bolted at once." 

"Without your watch, of course?" I grimly observed. 

" Oh, yes; that went in the scrimmage, and I never thought 
it worth while to ax for it. I was too precious concerned at 
having croaked the man wi' my knife." 

" That was a nice plant," I remarked, as he concluded. 
"Are you sure that you touched him at all with the knife?" 

" Oh, certain, for some of the blood went on the watch in his 
hand — fact, that was the last I saw of it." 

" Well, well, you are a simpleton after all," I cried, with a 
burst of laughter that made him wonderingly open his eyes. 
"It was all a do — all a plan to rob you of your watch; and if 
the man you thought you saw dying isn't as well at this moment 
as you are, so far as the injury done him by you is concerned, 
I will forfeit the value of your watch twice over." 

"Then what have you been chasing me for, and hunting me 
all over with police, and detectives, and what not, till I thought 
I'd better go and hang myself to be done with it?" cried the 
simple fellow. 

" I wasn't chasing you till you ran; but I did want to see you 
about the watch, which your dying man had been strong enough 
to pawn the very next day, and also about that money which 
you left with me. Did you mean never to claim it?" 

" I meant to give you a precious wide berth," said Brennan, 
with great earnestness. " The money might go; what was that 
to being strung up at a rope's end?" 

I laughed long and loudly at his gravity, which to me 
appeared irresistibly comical; and then I gave him the history 
of the watch so far as it was known to me, adding a few facts 
about Griddler Bob which effectually relieved his mind of the 
dread and horror to which it had been a prey for so many 
months. And when I added that I had his valued chronometer 
in safety, and that I had little doubt but it would be restored to 
him soon, the honest fellow all but took me round the neck in 
the exuberance of his joy. 



120 UNCLAIMED MONEY- 

I returned to Edinburgh and hunted hard for the Griddler, 
but I found that he had vanished from the city. A few weeks 
later I chanced to be in Dundee, and in passing up the Over- 
gate one Saturday night among the motley passengers there 
crowding the street, I heard a familiar voice stentoriously 
drawling out the words — 

" O, fa-ather, dear fa-ather, you'll die a public show, 
For the murder of young Will-yam, that ploughed the lowlands low. " 

I pressed through the crowd surrounding the singer at once, 
and tapping him on the shoulder, said quietly — 

" I want you, Bob, for that watch business. I've got it all 
cut and dry now, and I think I can book you for seven years." 

Bob was slow to believe me; and even when I got him to the 
Office, showed me a slight scar on his hand, which he declared 
the sailor had inflicted with his knife before going away, and 
leaving the watch as a present in compensation for the injury. 
This ingenious story was ruthlessly ridiculed at the trial, and 
the jury agreeing with the judge, the Griddler was duly sent for 
the seven years I had promised him. 

When the trial was over, I handed Brennan his watch and 
his money; but I noticed that his big glistening eyes were par- 
ticularly bright and full of meaning, while, instead of at once 
pocketing the prized chronometer, he only fingered nervously 
with the dangling string, and at last said — 

" I say, Mr M'Govan, I'd take it as a particular honour if 
you'd take this as a present, to wear it — mind, to wear it. I'm 
sure you're better able to take care on it than I am." 

My reply was to pull out my own faithful old silver lever, 
with the words — 

" Look at that faithful old servant, Mr Brennan. It has 
served me for the best part of my life as unerringly as a watch 
can serve any one. Don't you think it would be the height of 
ingratitude on my part to discard it, simply because I am 
offered one with a yellow covering instead of its shining white 
one? I see you're convinced. Let us both stick to our friends, 
and try to emulate their regularity and good habits." 

Jim Brennan took my hand in both his own; but his heart 
was too full for him to exert his wonderful strength, and I 
escaped with a pressure as gentle as a woman's, 



"LARKS/" i2i 



" LARKS !" 

I have repeatedly had occasion to show that none are more 
liable to be imposed upon and cruelly robbed than thieves, 
just as those tiny creatures that trouble the uncleanly are 
found, when examined under a microscope, to be similarly 
afflicted in turn. But who is to guard the unhappy thief? who 
is to detect for the hard-woiking scoundrel, who at much per- 
sonal risk has possessed himself of some one else's property ? 
Alas, the thief has never been provided for; he is forced to 
essay the new role of hunter instead of hunted himself; and the 
result, as I will here show, is not always a success of dazzling 
brilliancy. 

Among the many cabs rushing down to the Waverley Station, 
one busy Saturday in June, was one bearing a common brown 
painted wooden trunk. The box was not big, but it was heavy, 
as the railway porters found when they hastened to help the 
cabman to put it on the luggage truck in waiting. The cab 
itself contained only a young girl, having that unmistakable 
boldness of manner which stamps the owner as belonging to 
the shady side of life. The girl knew nothing whatever of the 
box or its contents beyond the fact that she had been in a 
roundabout fashion engaged to see it safely to the Railway 
Station. On the lid of the trunk was tacked a card bearing 
the words — 

" P. Brimmer, 

Passenger;" 
and this legend being manifestly incomplete, the porters turned 
to the girl to ask what station the box was to be ticketed for. 

" Dundee — be sure you ticket it for Dundee," was her reply, 
and she was careful to wait by the truck till the thin yellow 
label was securely gummed on the lid of the box immediately 
below the ticket. She then disappeared into the booking 
office, after paying the cabman, leaving the trunk to be stowed- 
up with piles of other boxes, and finally hurled down to the 



7 92 " LARKS ! n 



pktform for "Fife and the North," for transference to the 
luggage wagon. 

The whole of this common-place scene had been witnessed 
from a safe distance by a person dressed like a working man, 
and trying with indifferent success to assume the air of an 
honest toiler about to change the scene of his labours. This 
man — who, among many aliases, owned those of Pete Brimmer 
and " Slotty " — the last being acquired by a comic habit he had 
of slotting people with a knife when he was hard pressed — no 
sooner saw the girl vanish from the booking-office in the 
direction of the stair up to the North Bridge, than he carelessly 
sauntered past the luggage truck into the booking office, giving 
a passing glance, as he did so, to ascertain that the luggage 
label was right for Dundee, and then took his place within the 
ticket rail and duly booked himself third-class for Dundee. 

What I hinted as to the minute biters being themselves 
subject to be bitten will now recur to the reader. No sooner 
had Slotty vanished from the booking office in the direction of 
the platform, than a man who had been bending over a time- 
table at the window immediately above the drawer containing 
the luggage labels, slipped out towards the luggage truck bear- 
ing something in his palm which he had drawn across his tongue 
a moment before. The whole of the porters were busy with 
other matters, and, while bending over the truck as if to make 
sure that his luggage was all right, the stranger managed to 
deftly clap another yellow label on top of that already affixed 
to the brown trunk. He then turned calmly to the booking 
office, took out a ticket, and made his way down to the train 
with the crowd, being careful to slip into the first carriage that 
came to hand. 

In crossing the ferry to Burntisland, Slotty was careful and 
concerned enough to look in the big luggage trucks for his 
trunk, and saw an end of the familiar brown box peeping from 
under the tarpaulin cover. When he reached the other side, 
therefore, and saw these trucks brought up by horses from the 
steamboat, he gave his luggage no further concern, but took 
his place in that part of the train for Dundee, with a deep sigh 
of satisfaction at having got away from Edinburgh, and out of 
all danger, so securely and successfully. 

Meantime the box had reached the platform of the Burnt- 
island Station, and stopped there, being legibly labelled 
" Burntisland." Among the last to come up from the boat was 
the man who had manipulated the labels and he, after a visit 



"LARKS!" 123 



to the refreshment bar, which lasted till the train had gone, 
came out with great importance, and went poking about the 
pile of luggage, saying — ■ 

"Brimmer — Brimmer — isn't there a box of mine in the 
truck? Ah, there it is — that brown one, porter — thank you!" 

The man thus claiming the box was shabby and disreput- 
able looking enough, but what suspicion could the porters 
have of a man who was almost the last to claim his luggage, 
which in turn bore the name he had given, and was labelled 
for that very station? The luggage being duly surrendered, 
the next question of its new owner was how to get it conveyed 
from the station. Some would have simply waited for the 
next train, and gone on to Perth, or some other distant town, 
but this was too transparent a movement to suit Mr Bob 
Nailer, otherwise the "Sheffield Blade." After some inquiries 
at the station, from which it appeared that Mr Nailer had come 
across to Burntisland for a change of air, he was directed to a 
furnished lodging a short distance from the station, and after a 
visit to the house in question he employed a man to convey 
thither the box, and a carpet bag which he had carried in his 
hand. The lodging was exorbitantly high in price, as it was 
near the beach, and the best time for visitors was at hand, but 
as that was nothing to a man who did not mean to pay for 
them, there was a charming absence of haggling over terms. 
The Sheffield Blade was delighted with the lodging, and the 
landlady was delighted with her lodger — more especially when 
his heavy baggage was brought in and carefully stowed into 
the bedroom. As soon as Mr Nailer had paid and dismissed 
the porter, he found that he had inadvertently left home with- 
out his keys, but was lucky enough to find one in the landlady's 
bunch which opened the brown trunk. He remained shut in 
the room, with the door snibbed, for a full half-hour after being 
so favoured, at the end of which time he appeared with the 
carpet-bag — which before had been light and fiat, but was now 
somewhat distended — in his hand. He had some business to 
attend to throughout the town, but would be back to dinner, 
which he ordered with much nicety and epicurean exactness. 
He then vanished from the house and the town as effectually 
as if he had quietly loaded his feet with weights and dropped 
himself into a deep hole in the Forth. The carefully prepared 
dinner got leave to simmer and frizzle itself into useless frag- 
ments, and the landlady began to be thankful that the trunk 
was left behind — containing, as she ascertained the moment 



124 "LARKS!" 



her new lodger left, some wearing apparel and other articles of 
some value, and not merely a heap of stones, or a couple of 
screw-nails fastening it to the floor. 

A little later in the day, Slotty arrived at Dundee, and turned 
to the luggage van in pleased confidence to receive his trunk, 
and was petrified to find that no such trunk was there. Then he 
swore horribly, and said that the Railway Company would have 
to pay for the loss, and plainly hinted that the missing trunk 
contained valuables for which he would not have accepted 
a hundred pounds. No amount of reasoning could convince 
him that such valuables could scarcely be called personal 
luggage, and that therefore the Company could not be res- 
ponsible for their loss — damages to the full amount he expected, 
or the box returned. 

At first a suspicion prevailed that by a mistake the trunk 
had been sent to Perth with the other half of the train ; but a 
telegram to that city speedily proved that they were mistaken, 
and that no such box had been in the Perth luggage van from 
the time of parting at the junction. The inference was clear 
— the box must have been left at some of the stations on the 
way. Slotty, for reasons that will soon appear, objected to 
informing the police of his loss, and at once elected himself 
his own special detective, and, so far as his first movement 
was concerned, did not do badly in the new character. He 
took the first train back in the direction of Edinburgh, inquir- 
ing sharply at every station on the way for a brown painted 
trunk, bearing the name of Peter Brimmer, and labelled for 
Dundee. In this way he progressed as far as Burntisland, 
where at last he was rewarded with a clue. Then his rage 
knew no bounds, and he swore with such heartiness and 
appalling zest, that it was evident that he considered thieves 
the pests of the universe, and fit only to be strung up on the 
spot when discovered. The porter who had taken the box to 
the lodging was easily found, and Slotty was soon standing 
before his box, which he unlocked only to go black in the face 
with indignation and anger. He danced about like one insane, 
tore at his short-cropped hair — harmlessly, of course — and 
finally declared that he was a ruined man — that he had been 
robbed of watches and jewellery amounting to about ^150, 
and that he would hold the railway responsible for the loss. 
The means by which the robbery had been managed were 
patent to the eye, for there was the Burntisland label on the 
box-lid, and underneath they speedily found the proper one for 



"LARKS!" 125 



Dundee. Slotty, in all his passion, was careful to announce 
his intention to take away such of his property as had been 
left; but to this the railway officials fortunately objected. 
Slotty's appearance was not prepossessing ; a robbery had been 
committed; it was just possible that he was not the real 
owner; they would take possession of the box and its contents 
till an investigation was made. Slotty declined to leave his 
address, and when pressed to do so, gave a fictitious one. 
Possibly his reason was for the moment unhinged : certainly 
he went out muttering, and stamping, and grinding his teeth 
as energetically as ever confirmed maniac was fit to do ; and 
to understand the drift of his mutterings, it is necessary to here 
insert the thoughts which were not allowed to reach the ears of 
the railway men. 

"After me acting fair and square with him, and dividing 
fair, to cut up treacherous like this ! Why shouldn't I go back 
to town and just slot him for it ? I'd like to, and he deserves 
it, but then he'd p'r'aps kick up a row, and turn round and 
peach, and send M'Govan or some of them after me. No, 
that wouldn't do. Oh, Tommy! if I had yer this minit, 
wouldn't I give it you sweet?" 

Nor was revenge the uppermost or most troublesome thought 
in Slotty's brain. The firmness of the railway people in detain- 
ing the box had added to his other troubles a wholesome con- 
cern for his own safety. Among those articles which the thief 
had thought not worth burthening himself with, was a little 
claw-footed electro-plated salt-cellar. There were also some 
bundles of nickle spoons and ivory-handled dinner knives, 
which appeared not only never to have been used, but never 
even unfastened. Now, the changed luggage-label clearly 
indicated that the robbery had been planned in Edinburgh ; it 
was not unlikely that the Edinburgh police would be called in 
to investigate ; and to his bitter regret Slotty now recognised 
the folly of having affixed his own name to the trunk. After 
crossing to Granton, pondering these painful points, Slotty, 
instead of paying a visit to his late companion in crime, Tommy 
the Twister, otherwise " Apple Jelly," and forcibly presenting 
him with the blade of his tobacco knife, thought proper to 
trudge on foot to Leith, and there get into hiding as quickly as 
possible. 

Exactly what Slotty had anticipated occurred. The robbery 
of the trunk was reported at the Edinburgh Central, and the 
moment the electro-plated salt-cellar and ironmongery goods 



126 * LARKS!* 



were mentioned, I conceived a sudden desire to look at the 
box and its contents. Only a few nights before Slotty's trip 
to Dundee had been made, a pawnbroker's at the south side 
had been broken into, and watches, jewellery, electro-plate, 
and cutlery, part of an ironmonger's stock there deposited, had 
been taken, to the value of nearly ^300. There were clear 
traces of two men at the job, but up to that moment no clue 
had been got either to the men or the stolen property. It 
happened, however, that I was out of town when the welcome 
news came, and before I returned, a note had been sent in for 
me by the kindly and well-doing Slotty. " Der M'Govan," he 
said, "i have to tel you that they pawnbroker's was dun by 
Apple Jelly — you now who I mean, just tommy, the Twister; 
so take him as sun as you plese. i will give you npore facts by 
an by. one as nows." 

Neither Slotty's handwriting nor his face were known to me 
very well, but it was different with his late companion. He 
was an old bird, whom I had limed a dozen times — a cunning 
rascal, with a liking for malingering in prison, and who had got 
his nickname from affecting illness approaching to death in 
appearance, and then, when asked if he had a wish for any 
particular dainty, opening his rigid teeth to say, " Gi' me some 
apply jelly." 

When the note betraying him as the burglar came to hand, 
I had, therefore, as little hope of laying hands on Tommy as I 
had of catching the moon. I felt certain that there had been 
some quarrel, and that long before I could get near him he 
would be miles from the city. It was with no little surprise, 
then, that on going down to his favourite public-house, I 
found him deeply intent on a game of dominoes, and looking 
as calm and unconcerned at my entrance as if he had never 
fingered a pennyworth that did not belong to him. 

" Take a hand, Jamie ? " he said graciously. 

I declined — I had not time or inclination, and, besides, I 
was there on business. 

" The fact is, I want you," I said at last, seeing him slow to 
take alarm. 

" Me ? me ? " he echoed, in the most absolute surprise, 
dropping his ivory cards with a rattle on the table. "What 
for?" 

" The pawnbroker's," I lightly answered, getting the spare 
link of the handcufls ready. 
' Jelly looked too much overcome with mystification and sur- 



"LARKS/" 127 



prise to make an answer, though he quietly held out his dirty 
paw to be fastened to my own, and bade his companion good- 
bye in a tone that showed a foreboding of more than a day or 
two's detention. 

The idea of treachery on the part of Slotty never for a 
moment occurred to him. They had had no quarrel — they had 
worked harmoniously and successfully together, and had parted 
the best of friends after fairly dividing the spoil ; so how could 
he look for treachery in that quarter ? Besides, Slotty had not 
a reputation for double dealing — though his skill with the 
tobacco knife aforementioned and his passionate disposition 
made him rather a dangerous companion. No ; after a swift 
thought in that direction, Apple Jelly put Slotty aside, and 
tried to speculate as to what other loose screw in his arrange- 
ments had brought his wrist within my bracelet. While he is 
thus puzzling himself and accompanying me from the public- 
house at eleven at night, after the manner of a real story teller 
I must ask the reader to go back a few hours, to follow his 
faithful friend Slotty in another of his brilliant ideas. 

Slotty had been somewhat precipitate, as we have seen, in 
jumping to the conclusion that Apply Jelly was the traitorous 
thief". His detective powers indeed were woefully impaired by 
his passionate temper, for he never once thought of questioning 
the lodging-house keeper as to the appearance of the thief, or 
the subsequent movements of the same gentleman. He simply 
got into hiding in Leith, and then after brooding over his 
wrongs sent in the note to me. But as soon as the note had 
been despatched, another brilliant idea came to him like an 
inspiration. 

They had divided the spoil fairly, Slotty deciding to take his 
share north to Dundee, while Jelly put his away in a hide of 
his own, pending negotiations for its purchase with a Glasgow 
fence. Well, seeing that Jelly had robbed Slotty of his share, 
what could be better than if Slotty, as soon as Jelly was in my 
clutches — which would be in an hour or so after the receipt of 
the note — should pay a visit to Apple Jelly's hide, and quietly 
possess himself of that gentleman's share ? It was even possible 
that in so doing he might get back his own, which would 
exactly double his profits. Besides, the beloved Twister was 
in all probability booked for a longish sentence — there being a 
superstitious idea among my " bairns " that the touch of my 
bracelets always is followed by a conviction of some kind — 
and so would not need the valuables in question. The note 



128 "LARKS!" 



was sent to me in the morning, and, rashly reckoning that I 
had received it, Slotty waited only for darkness to put his plan 
into execution. The days unluckily were long, but before dusk 
Slotty was up in Edinburgh and prowling round the den of 
Apple Jelly — a garret in a narrow close near the top of the 
Canongate. Some cautious reconnoitring satisfied him that 
the Twister was from home, though that the garret was not 
empty he had ample proof in a deep snoring which greeted his 
ears whenever he got close to the door. Apple Jelly's wife was 
within, sleeping off the effects of a two days' carouse. This 
woman was one of muscle and weight, her arm being nearly as 
thick as Slotty's body. An encounter with her was the last 
thing he could have wished for, but delay would be in the 
highest degree dangerous, as Slotty might himself be arrested, 
or the plunder might at any moment be removed. The room 
was nearly dark, and the door unlocked; the woman would 
probably lie like a log if she were not actually kicked into 
wakefulness. Slotty determined to venture in. Slipping off 
his shoes and noiselessly raising the latch, Slotty stood within 
the room, while the great mountain of flesh snored on. The 
door was reclosed, and then he applied himself to the opening 
of the hide on the opposite side of the room. This hide con- 
sisted of that part of the sloping roof shut off near the window 
by a low partition of lath and plaster. In this partition an 
ingenious door had been fitted, made of lath and plaster, so as 
to give forth the same echo when sounded, the whole being 
concealed by having pasted over it the lively horrors of the 
Police News. The removing of this covering cost Slotty some 
work, but at last the door of the hide was open, and the arm 
of the intruder eagerly thrust into the aperture. 

To his intense disappointment he touched no box or bundle 
of jewellery. He groped madly about — further and further, 
till he lay sprawling and sweating on his face, with his arm up 
to the socket in the hide, swearing rapidly in an enforced 
whisper all the while. Then a new thought came — the hide 
was long and deep, he himself was slender to a fault — he would 
go inside and make a thorough search. 

He wriggled in at the narrow hole — he got inside — he groped 
and crawled through every inch of the stifling hole— and then, 
if he had been gifted with invention, he would have sworn with 
greater rapidity than before. The hide was absolutely empty! 
Perhaps one or two of his exclamations, more unguarded than 
the rest, had reached the garret and disturbed the peaceful 



" LARKS /" 129 



slumbers of Apple Jelly's wife. At all events, Slotty had 
scarcely put out his head at the door of the hide and wedged 
himself into the narrow doorway, with the intention of wriggling 
out again, when the gigantic woman started up, and in a dazed 
way stared round the room. The light was dim, but it was 
nevertheless good enough to reveal the head and shoulders of 
a man protruding from a place more sacred to the occupants 
than the garret itself. With a sharp cry of anger and alarm 
the strong woman started up and seized the first weapon that 
came to hand, which chanced to be a strong earthenware 
dish, which she brought down on the protruding head with a 
force that, had the weapon been stronger, must have smashed 
the skull into fragments. Something had to give way, and 
fortunately for Slotty it was the weapon, which was shivered 
by the blow, but not till it had inflicted on Slotty a concussion 
that made him sprawl in a frog-like way on the floor, too much 
stunned to be able either to speak or escape. Before he could 
recover, he was dragged up with one jerk of the muscular arm; 
and though he was then recognised, he was, in spite of protests, 
kicked all round the room, and finally carried out of the garret 
and along the passage, and then precipitated with much zest 
down the worn and cork-screw stairs. 

" Wait till Tommy gets back from Mackie's," said the woman 
as a parting warning, alluding to the public-house in which 
Apple Jelly was at that moment showing such surprise at my 
visit, "and he'll give ye twice what I've give ye." 

Poor Slotty! if ever a man had cause to feel angry, it was 
he. Injury had been heaped upon injury, and now insult and 
threat were added. When he became sensible enough to sit 
up, and groaningly feel his sore bones and aching skull, will it 
be wondered at that his first feeble effort was to get out his 
beloved tobacco knife ? 

"Jelly isn't nabbed yet— he's down at Mackie's, and 
M'Govan's been slower nor usual — I'll nab him ! " was his vengeful 
remark, as he deliberately unclasped the knife and began to 
sharpen its point on the stone steps upon which he was seated. 
It is clear that Slotty was far too hasty ever to make a good 
detective. 

As soon as he was satisfied with the keenness of the point of 
his knife, and able to stand upon his legs with some firmness 
and without his head swimming at every step, Slotty left the 
stair and close, and made his way to Mackie's public-house. 
As he was about to cross the street and enter, I appeared at 
s. c i 



t$Q "LARKS!" 



the door with Apple Jelly fastened to me by the wrist, and in 
his haste to duck into an entry out of sight, Slotty forgot his 
intention with the knife. As soon, however, as he found that 
he was not pursued his rage returned; and seeing that we 
passed up an adjoining close to avoid the commotion of the 
open streets, Slotty dived into the close in our wake. When 
we were near the top of the close, my prisoner suddenly 
staggered against me, as if he had been jostled from behind, 
and cried out — " Somebody's hurt me! I think I'm stabbed!" 

At the same moment a rush of footsteps down the close 
caught my ear, and I distinctly saw a man running; but Jelly's 
next remark roused some suspicion in my mind that the whole 
was a plan for escape. 

" There he's running, Jamie — loose the bracelet and after 
him!" 

"And lose you at the same time?" I remarked, with a 
knowing look. " No, thank you." 

" But I'm stabbed! Oh! if I didn't know better, I'd swear 
this was Slotty's work. It's just his style." 

I still thought he was shamming, and insisted on his walking 
out into the High Street; but after one or two groaning steps 
he dropped on the pavement, looking horribly ghastly, and 
piteously declaring he could walk no further. I had him 
carried up to the Office, where an examination speedily showed 
that he had been stabbed in the side — the knife having actually 
passed into the flesh, and, after glancing against a rib, passed 
out again in front. It was not a very dangerous stab, but as it 
bled profusely at both holes, Jelly soon looked more pale and 
death-like than he had ever seemed while affecting illness in 
prison. 

Next morning my first business was a trip across to Burnt- 
island, when the moment I read the address on the lid I 
exclaimed — 

"I believe that stab was from Slotty, after all." 

The articles found in the trunk — always excepting the greasy 
rags which Slotty owned as clothing — were easily identified as 
part of the stolen property, and, apart from the stabbing alto- 
gether, I now began to have a strong wish to find out Slotty's 
abode. Leaving that task to others, however, I began where 
Slotty had foolishly left off, and traced the real thief— the 
Sheffield Blade — out of Burntisland and right along Fife as far 
as Stirling, by the watches and other stolen articles which he 
had left in his wake at fabulously low prices. The traces 



" LARKS 1* 131 



vanished at Stirling, and I suspected that he had there taken 
train for either Glasgow or Edinburgh. As the former was 
safest for him, I telegraphed to Johnny Farrel for information, 
and quickly got word that the Sheffield Blade had been seen in 
Glasgow trying to form a Watch Club at one of the factories, 
and would probably be heard of in a day or two. 

This was all I wanted, and, leaving him to Johnny, I returned 
to Edinburgh. By this time Jelly's wife had been allowed to 
visit the wounded thief in prison, and had given him a full 
account of her encounter with Slotty, at the same time telling 
him that that esteemed pal had somehow imbibed the idea that 
Jelly had robbed him. My arrival with the news of the Shef- 
field Blade's sharpness supplied a clue to the mystery, more 
especially when Jelly remembered that Air Nailer had on one 
occasion feigned helpless drunkenness, and so overheard some 
of the two burglars' whispered plans for the disposal of the pro- 
perty. Had it not been that a mere mistake in the address, 
and some carelessness in packing Jelly's share of the stolen 
property had led to its recovery in the keeping of the B.ailway 
Company at Glasgow, it is very probable that Apple Jelly 
would not have been nearly so frank in his admissions; but 
rage is a powerful auxiliary of the detective, and in his heat he 
now longed for but one consummation of joy — the capture of 
Slotty. 

I tried my best to gratify him, but for many weary days could 
find no trace of him. I did not believe that he had ventured 
out of the city, and at length turned to Apple Jelly for advice. 
He thought for some minutes, scratching his grey head pro- 
foundly the while, and then eagerly shouted — "Larks!" 

'• Larks? what do you mean by that?" I exclaimed, not sure 
but Jelly wished to have one with me. 

" Oh, Slotty's mad about larks, and never lives without one 
or two. Look for larks, and you'll find Slotty." 

I thought the advice worthless. I did not believe that Slotty 
would trouble with his pet hobby while lying in hiding, and still 
less did I believe that I could find him by "looking for larks;" 
but though the task was a long and weary one, I did find him 
in the end, and by that very clue. After many a disappoint- 
ment, and many a prowl after the keepers of larks in Edinburgh, 
I one day wandered down to Leith, and was passing through a 
narrow street running from the Kirkgate, when I heard the 
painful and wild song of a lark in captivity. I looked every- 
where for the lark, but could see none, but by ascending a com- 



132 " LARKS P' 



mon stair, I at last got a glimpse of the roof, where I not onl) 
saw the lark in question, but Slotty himself seated in his shirt 
sleeves at the open window, with his heels tilted up and a pipe 
in his mouth. I did not trouble to shout across, but got down 
to the street very quickly, called a man from the next street, 
and went up and politely asked him to put on his coat, aftei 
opening the door without troubling to knock. Slotty made a 
dart for his tobacco knife, which lay on the window-sill ready 
opened as he had left it after cutting his tobacco; but I was 
too well aware of his weakness in that direction to let him get 
near it. 

I tripped him up, and while he sprawled on his face, 
wrenched back his paws and snapped the steel bracelets upon 
them before he could get out half-a-dozen of his favourite 
adjectives. 

When he became calmer, I took occasion to reproach him 
for trying to turn detective, when his powers so manifestly did 
not lie in that direction, at the same time explaining how 
egregious an ass he had made himself in regard to Apple Jelly. 
Then his rage was transferred from me to the Sheffield Blade, 
and he plaintively requested an interview with that gentleman 
as soon as he arrived in Johnny Farrel's keeping from Glasgow. 
This request we thought prudent to refuse, as also the joint 
wish eagerly tendered by him and Apple Jelly, that they might 
all three be placed at the bar together — with the Sheffield 
Blade in the centre. They were tried separately; and when 
Slotty retired with " ten years " ringing in his ears, he was heard 
to say that he would live it out just to be even with the Shef- 
field Blade. The affinity of great minds was shown half-an- 
hour later by Apple Jelly expressing himself in words almost 
identical. Sheffield Blade, however, was sent to a different 
prison to complete his sentence ; and regarding him and Slotty 
I have more to say in another sketch. 



THE BLOOD-STONE RING. 133 



THE BLOOD-STONE RING. 

" I want to see the best detective you have on the staff," 
said a gentleman who appeared at the Central one day in De- 
cember, when I was away in Ireland, at the same time present- 
ing a card bearing the name Middleton. " I have been robbed 
right and left in the most mysterious manner possible, and 
though I am unwilling to suspect any one about me, I can 
remain passive no longer." 

"The best detective? — that's me!" said M 'Sweeny with great 
alacrity, while every one else in the room hastened to hide his 
mouth with his hand. 

"Your name is M'Govan, I suppose?" said the gentleman 
with a pleased smile, and frankly offering his hand. 

" No — not exactly," answered M'Sweeny, with an ill-con- 
cealed writhe. " M'Govan is a kind of chum or assistant of 
mine ; but most people prefers me, because if he blunders he 
loses the case, while if I blunder, begorra! I'm sure to win it;" 
and M'Sweeny posed grandly, as if waiting for an admiring 
world to crown him with laurel. 

" AVell — but really — I think I would rather see M'Govan," 
hesitatingly interposed Mr Middleton, after an awkward pause. 

" Yis, but ye can't, unless ye've got a moighty strong teles- 
cope that'll raich all the way to Belfast," said M'Sweeny, with 
a delighted twinkle of the eyes. "He's gone there after one 
of our bairns, an' won't be back for three good days anyhow." 

After a few moments' consideration, and discovering that 
there was no other detective then in the Office, Mr Middleton 
concluded that he would place his case before M'Sweeny. 

Mr Middleton was a retired accountant, who rather prided 
himself upon his own penetration and acuteness, yet in 
beginning he confessed that the robbery which he came to 
report had puzzled him completely. 

"I live at Rose Mount Villa, out at Viewforth, as you will 
see by the card," he proceeded to say. " I keep only one 
servant, and we've had her for ten years — since she was a mere 
girl, indeed— and I am certain that she at least has no connec- 



134 THE BLOOD-STONE RING 

tion with the robberies. After her there is only my wife and 
children, these being far too young to know the meaning of the 
words robbery or valuables." 

"Followers, p'r'aps?" suggested M'Sweeny. 

"That is impossible; Mrs Middleton and myself have 
always been strict on that point. We allow no sweetheart or 
follower of the servant to come within the garden gate. She 
may see them outside as often as she is free, but never on my 
premises. Not that I have any doubt of the girl's steadiness, 
but it is best to err on the safe side." 

"And what have ye missed?" said M'Sweeny, imitating 
somewhat successfully the business-like look he had seen on 
my face under such circumstances, and scrawling away rapidly 
at hieroglyphics meant for notes. 

"I have a list of them here;" and, producing a paper, Mr 
Middleton read aloud the items, which were duly recorded by 
M'Sweeny, the only alterations being in the spelling and capita] 
letters. " The first article was a mother-of-pearl card-case, 
mounted with silver, a valued present, which Mrs Middleton 
would not have lost for ten pounds. That was missed about 
a month ago. Then there is a solid gold ring of my own, set 
with a valuable blood-stone. The ring was valued at two 
guineas, but worth fifty times that sum to me, as I had it given 
me by a client now dead. I never could understand how that 
ring vanished, for I seldom took it off except when my hands 
wore unusually dirty — as with working in the garden — and I 
was about to wash them. It vanished one day as if by magic, 
and I have never seen it since. That was about a month ago. 
Then there are five silver teaspoons, missed at different times; 
a gold watch of Mrs Middleton's, which cost ^14; a silver 
fruit knife, with a mother-of-pearl handle; a lace veil, worth 
five guineas; and various other trifles, such as gloves, cuffs, 
collars, silk ties, and feathers." 

M'Sweeny finished his translation, and then winked know- 
ingly, and repeated his first suggestion in the single word — 

" Followers." 

" I think not," said Mr Middleton, less decidedly, however, 
than at first. " I should as soon suspect my own wife as Jeanie 
Manners. In fact, when the great commotion was made after 
the missing of thewatch, Jeanie insisted on her mistress search- 
ing her box, which, however, was scarcely necessary, as it 
nearly always stands open, and, besides, Mrs Middleton 
chances to have a key which opens it, and had gone over the 



THE BLOODSTONE RING. 135 



whole contents before then, after getting Jeanie out of the way 
for the purpose." 

" Hum ! sharp practice," was M'Sweeny's admiring comment. 
" Well, whoever is the thafe, it won't do to let them know that 
M'Sweeny is after them, because the minit they suspected that 
they'd take mortal fright, and the stolen things would go into 
the fire or melting-pot at wanst. It's the terror of me name 
does it, ye see," he added, in polite explanation. " Some 
detectives would go out and examine the house, and question 
the servant sharp and strong, so as to frighten her into confess- 
ing, but that isn't my way of working. Couldn't we arrange a 
nice little trap for them, whoever they are ? — say that you 
and the wife and children are going out to a party, and 
that you'll likely be all hours in the morning of gettin' back 
again ?" 

"Why, we are going to just such a party to-morrow night," 
eagerly responded the visitor. "The children are just young 
enough to stay out so late, the eldest being scarcely seven, 
and the baby only two years and a-half, but it is their aunt's 
party, and they will probably sleep there." 

" That's the sort of thing — the whole house empty and the 
coast clear," jubilantly returned M'Sweeny. " Does the 
servant know she's to have the whole house to herself?" 

"Oh, yes; perfectly; we offered to let her have a night out 
for the occasion, but she said she would rather stay and watch 
the house." 

"Very kind and thoughtful of her," said M'Sweeny, with a 
grin. " Well, you go away an' keep your mind aisy. I'll trot 
out some time to-day, an' have a quiet look at the house, and 
you can send me your check keys any time to-morrow, so that 
I can have the free run of the house widout any one knowing 
I'm there, if so be as I have to go into it at all." 

" You will be on the watch, then, while we are away?" 

M'Sweeny winked expressively. 

" I would be willing to help you in any way, if you wish it," 
said Mr Middleton. 

" Och, sure, an' there's no need of that. It's only the like 
of Jamie M'Govan that needs assistants andhelpers. I work best 
single-handed," answered M'Sweeny, with elation and import- 
ance. " You rest aisy at your party, and leave all the trouble to 
me, and in the morning you'll hear good news, if followers 
are in the job, and I'm not a thundering big donkey." 

After stating that the servant, Jeanie Manners, was so care- 



136 THE BLOOD-STONE RING. 

ml and trustworthy that she had the free run of the whole house, 
neither presses nor drawers being locked against her, Mr 
Middleton took leave. In the course of the day M'Sweeny went 
out to Viewforth, a south-western suburb near the canal, and 
studied at a respectable distance the situation of Rose Mount 
Villa. Unfortunately for M'Sweeny, the place was one of 
those modern mansions, the plans of which seem to be drawn 
by machinery, having a plot of so many square feet for a 
garden, without trees, summer house, or shelter of any kind. 
There was a back-gate to the garden, and on looking in it at that 
M'Sweeny could see no convenient hiding-place but a disused 
hen-house close to the scullery. This commanded a full view 
of the kitchen door and windows, and also had the advantage 
of being almost in sight of the gate of the front garden, which 
could not be opened and entered without the swing of the 
gate being seen from the hiding-place. 

The reader will doubtless wonder how my chum came to fix 
so decisively upon " followers" as the active agents in the 
robbery with such slight evidence to guide him, and by no 
one can this wonder be more emphatically echoed than it was 
by myself. When the circumstances were narrated to me thus 
far, I remember distinctly saying to myself that not a " follower" 
would appear in the case — a thought now entertained, I doubt 
not, by the reader; but in this I was completely mistaken. 
That M'Sweeny was right, however, was more to be accounted 
for on the ground that rare strokes of fortune fall to all 
detectives alike, than from the weight of evidence pointing in 
that direction. 

The next day was stormy and blustering, with occasional 
showers of sleet and rain; but as soon as it was dark — that is, 
shortly after four o'clock — M'Sweeny, provided with the keys 
which had been sent for his use, went out to Viewforth and 
got quietly in at the back gate of Rose Mount Villa, closing 
and locking it after him, and then very thankfully seeking the 
shelter of the hen-house — a vile-smelling den of brick and wood, 
with wired-in cage in front, through which he could watch the 
flitting lights in the house and general evidence of the stir and 
bustle of preparations for departure. Shortly before five 
o'clock a cab stopped at the front gate, and was soon driving 
away, containing Mr Middleton and his wife and the three 
children, after which M'Sweeny's watch would have been rather 
irksome and monotonous, but for the restless movements of 
the single servant eft in charge of the house. 



THE BLOOD-STONE RING. 137 

For some reason the girl had not drawn down the blind of 
the kitchen window, and M'Sweeny could watch her every 
movement by peering out at the door of his cage. First, she 
got out her pastry board and roller and a pot of jam, and 
proceeded to make a tempting-looking puff cake, which she 
placed in the oven. A neat little steak pie, " just a nice size 
for two," as M'Sweeny remarked to himself with watering 
mouth, soon followed the puff cake into the oven; and then 
Jeanie disappeared, and returned with some beautifully-painted 
tea china, which she dusted carefully, and placed on a tray 
ready to carry out of the kitchen. The china was the best in 
the house, and M'Sweeny was not slow to note that cups and 
saucers were laid for two only. 

By and by her work became less arduous, and her peeps into 
the oven were varied by a constant trotting to the kitchen 
window and peering out, with her nose and cheeks flattened 
on the pane, in the direction of the back gate. 

"Batherashon! I wish I had not locked the gate," was 
M'Sweeny's comment; "but sure thrue love laughs at locks, 
and if he's partic'lar anxious to get a nice tea and a nice chat, 
it won't be a shut back dure that'll keep him out." 

Scarcely had M'Sweeny uttered the comment when the 
difficulty was solved in an unexpected manner. Jeanie, 
evidently grown impatient, appeared at the kitchen door, with 
a little shawl thrown lightly over her head to protect her from 
the driving snow, and tripped lightly down the walk to the 
back gate, inserted a key in the lock, opened the gate, and 
stood long looking in an easterly direction. The looked-for did 
not appear; and merely pushing to the gate without fastening 
it, the smart servant lass returned to the house to have another 
peep at her oven, and then whisk out of the kitchen with her 
trayful of pretty china. 

Almost simultaneously with her disappearance, the front 
gate was softly pushed open, and M'Sweeny was just in time 
to catch a glimpse of a man's form moving away in the direction 
of the front door. 

" Now or never !" was M'Sweeny's excited exclamation. 
" I'll go round by the other side of the house, and the minit 
he's in at the front dure I'll run in an' collar him." 

He left his hiding-place and passed along the back of the 
house, intending to pause at the end till the bell rang; but 
just as he reached the corner, stooping low and moving fast to 
Judge the wind and sleet, he bumped his head full into the 



138 THE BLOOD-STONE RING. 

stomach of the intruder. M'Sweeny in the darkness could 
only see that the man, though respectably dressed, wore a 
legitimate "keelie cap" of double peaked cloth, and he put out 
his strong paws and clinched at once. M'Sweeny was himself 
muffled to the ears, but the intruder needed no invitation to 
the encounter, but opened the fray by delivering a tremendous 
kick on my chum's shin bone, at the same time putting forth 
all his strength in a sudden attempt to strangle him. M'Sweeny 
replied promptly by tripping up his assailant, and falling 
heavily on him, so as to drive as much as possible of the breath 
from his body, and was following this up by a vigorous 
pounding with his hard knuckles, when a kind of familiar tone 
in some of the prostrate intruder's smothered exclamations 
induced him to start and peer more closely into his features. 
The intruder at the same time appeared to recognise the towsy 
red head of M'Sweeny — from which the hat had now tumbled 
'—and was the first to exclaim — 

" Oh, why couldn't you look before you hit out?" 

"Begorra, it's Mr Middleton himself !" cried the crestfallen 
M'Sweeny, helping up the man he had fallen on, and obsequiously 
dusting"-rf(s coat for him. "Who ever would thought it was you?" 

Some whispered explanation followed, from which it appeared 
that Mr Middleton had no sooner seen his wife and children 
comfortably to the party than he slipped on an old cloth cap 
and muffler he had found in the hall and run back to have a 
look at his house, and, if possible, see if M'Sweeny was making 
any discoveries or captures of importance. 

With many reproaches for all but spoiling his case, M'Sweeny 
hurried his employer out of the place, telling him to keep away 
as long as he could, or take the consequences; and, having thus 
diverted Mr Middleton's attention from the severe pummelling 
he had received, he once more turned his attention to the 
house. The attractive cosiness of the interior, with the slob- 
bering about in the sleet and sludge which he had just received, 
had effected a slight change in M'Sweeny's feelings, and he 
thought he might change or modify his plans. 

" I could grab him just as well in the house as outside — an' 
a deal better, for me fingers won't be like bunches of icicles," 
he muttered, after detecting a glimpse of light in the dining- 
room, and then slipping round to find Jeanie still busy in the 
kitchen. " While she's watchin' that the pie don't burn itself, 
and the praties don't boil over, it'll be aisy for me to slip in 
at the front dure." 



THE BLOOD-STONE RING. 139 

The wish for warmth goaded him to instant action, and in a 
moment or two more he had noiselessly slipped back the 
check-lock of the front door, entered the warm lobby, and 
sniffed long and ecstatically at the appetising odour streaming 
through it from the direction of the kitchen. Then, after 
pulling off his boots and hiding them under the lobby-stand, 
he stole into the dining-room, saw that the glittering tea things 
were arranged on a small table in front of a glorious fire, and 
then, hearing a light step in the lobby, he hastily scrambled in 
below the sofa, and had only got comfortably out of sight when 
Jeanie appeared with a plate of cake, which she unsuspiciously 
added to the tempting array on the tea-table, blithely singing 
the while, "Oh, Charlie is my darling." 

" Musha, thin, I wish I was Charlie," muttered M'Sweeny. 
" Jeanie's lips look as if they wor meant only for kissing, and 
her pastry and pie crust — em ! ah ! — would melt the heart ov any 
man, if he only smelt it a mile off." 

A heavy breath, or the gulping down of the deluge of watei 
that had rushed to M'Sweeny's mouth, had startled Jhe girl, 
for she dropped a teaspoon clatter among tea- cups. 'and ex- 
claimed — 

"S — s — sh ! what's that?" turning at the same time right 
round on her toes, as the hidden watcher could see, to examine 
every corner of the room. 

Fortunately, the moment she became thus startled into 
breathless silence, a low tap sounded on the kitchen door at 
the back, and with a joyous cry of relief Jeanie sped from the 
room to admit her lover. Her returning footsteps were 
accompanied by other two from a pair of heavy boots, and were 
not nearly so swift, being mingled, during the entire passage 
to the dining-room, with the explosion of many kisses — every 
one of which made M'Sweeny's mouth water worse than a 
whole ovenful of pastry would have done. When the pair 
came in sight, M'Sweeny could see only the skirts of Jeanie's 
spotless print gown and the lower half of a pair of check tweed 
trousers, one leg of which had a square patch inserted at the 
ancle. The trousers and heavy boots, after much rebuke from 
Jeanie, at length anchored themselves on a chair close to 
M'Sweeny. There was no reason why my chum should not 
at once have pounced on him, the more so as Jeanie left the 
room to bring the tea. M'Sweeny has always declared that 
his reason for delaying was to learn from the conversation what 
kind of character " Charlie" was, and to discover if he had any 



140 THE BLOOD-STONE RING. 

connection with the robberies; but I suspect that the real 
reason was a kind of sympathising wish to let the poor fellow 
enjoy a little of the transient bliss before lugging him off to 
the cells. A fellow-feeling makes us wondrous kind; and they 
had not yet begun to demolish the dainties. 

As soon as the teapot was brought in and put under the cosy, 
there was another chase and capture, followed by as many 
explosive kisses as would have scared a volunteer general into 
the idea of a terrific battle. Most persons require a whole 
chair to themselves, but that in front of M "Sweeny held Charlie 
and Jeanie comfortably, and neither complained of want of 
room. Love is said to be eloquent, but the only words uttered 
by Charlie were — 

" Oh, Jeanie, but ye're a bonnie lass ! " and " I'm no wantin' 
tea — I'm only wanting anither kiss." 

It was Jeanie who did most of the chatting, and her words 
ranged over a vast field, including the cost of marriage, of 
furnishing a house, and speculative remarks as to whether a 
plumber's wage would be sufficient to support the expense of 
a ten pound rent. From all this M'Sweeny gleaned much 
regarding Charlie, but nothing of the robbery. At last even 
Charlie became somewhat satiated of mere kissing and enthu- 
siastic demonstration, and the first cup of tea was poured out 
and consumed, as well as the beautiful puff-cake which 
M'Sweeny, I suspect, had fondly expected to taste. Then 
M'Sweeny prepared for action. 

" I'd drop on him now, only I'm afeard for the girl," he 
dubiously muttered. '• She'll scream, an' mebbe scratch like a 
tiger, and it won't be him that'll get the benefit of her nails." 

At length Jeanie rose and left the room to refill the teapot; 
and M'Sweeny, with the handcuffs ready in his teeth, suddenly 
put out a paw and gripped the horrified plumber by the ancle. 
The effect was more disastrous than either had anticipated, for 
with a loud cry of terror Charlie sprang up, grasping at the 
tablecloth with both hands to save himself from being pulled 
down. The table itself was smooth as glass, and held on its 
surface not only the beautiful tea set and tray, but the great 
massive lamp of pink china which lighted the whole room. 
Tablecloth and everything on it came away with Charlie's 
hands, and, with a crash that brought an answering scream 
from Jeanie, the whole room became dark, and the two men 
were madly fighting, and struggling, and rolling over and over 
among the wreck on the carpet. M'Sweeny, though his 



THE BLOOD-STONE RING. 141 

first intention was only to cling fast to his prisoner, fought 
well, and succeeded in effectually " marking his man for identi- 
fication," by giving him a tremendous " oner" on the right eye; 
but just as he was getting the upper hand, Jeanie ran screaming 
into the room with the newly filled teapot in her hand. The 
room was darkened by the smashing and extinquishing of the 
lamp ; but there was still sufficient light from the fire to enable 
her to distinguish between a towsy head of flaming red hair and 
the brown locks of her beloved Charlie. Without a moment's 
hesitation, she brought the teapot smash down on the offending 
red head, breaking the pot into fragments, and bringing its 
scalding contents down about M 'Sweeny's ears, and neck, and 
face. 

For a moment or two my chum was too busy with one of 
the sofa cushions getting the hot water out of his hair, and 
feeling gingerly at his scalded ears, to think of either prisoner 
or assailant, and when he did recover sufficiently he found 
Charlie gone. Jeanie was there though, in tears and anger, to 
listen to his explanation that he was a detective sent to in- 
vestigate in regard to the missing articles, but not to believe it. 
She told him roundly that neither Charlie, who was a relation 
of hers, nor herself were thieves, and that all she had given 
her lover was bought with her own money, and finally refused 
blankly to give Charlie's name or address, and not very gently 
bundled M'Sweeny out into the sleet and wind to cool his ears 
and his brain at one and the same time. 

When Mr Middleton and his wife returned they found the 
wreck cleared away, but were told by the indignant Jeanie that 
a horrid man calling himself a detective, who had smuggled 
himself into the dining-room, had clumsily smashed the lamp; 
and then Jeanie waxed so warm in her reproaches at being 
suspected, that Mr Middleton began to faintly ask himself if he 
or she was the injured person. As she admitted having a 
friend in to tea with her, however, he would have discharged 
her on the spot; but it happened that Mrs Middleton sided 
strongly with the girl, and so after much altercation it was 
arranged that she should be allowed to stay till the term. 

M'Sweeny, after spending a restless night with an oily rag 
round his ears and neck, had his plans all cut and dry. He 
first visited Mr Middleton, and discovered that some plumbers 
had been employed about the house some months before, and, 
getting the name of the firm who sent them, he went to the 
workshop and asked coolly " If Charlie was in ? " 



i42 THE BLOOD-STONE RING. 

Charlie was in ; and M 'Sweeny, though he could not sweai 
to the face, identified him at once by the black eye he had 
given him and the square patch in his check tweed trousers. 
But what added to his exultation was to find the prisoner 
wearing on his little finger a ring of solid gold, set with a 
beautiful blood-stone. Charlie protested loudly that the ring 
was his own, but could not give any clear account as to how 
it came into his possession, and was marched off to the Office, 
where an hour or two after Mr Middleton appeared, and swore 
positively that the blood-stone ring was that which had been 
stolen from him. Strict search was made in Charlie's 
lodgings, but no trace of any of the other stolen articles was 
discovered. The ring, however, bore all before it. If he had 
been able to say how or where he got it, perhaps his case would 
have been dismissed; as it was, he was remitted to the Sheriff 
Court, and there, in spite of every protest of innocence, sen- 
tenced to a month's imprisonment. My own opinion was 
then, and now is, that the ring he was convicted of stealing 
had in reality been found, and that he was afraid that to confess 
the truth would not avert punishment, as he had committed 
a crime in not reporting the find to the police and delivering 
up the article to our keeping. He was unknown to the police, 
and said to be a hard-working fellow, though somewhat hare- 
brained, and so the sentence was made light. 

I have hinted thus that, in spite of M'Sweeny's cleverness 
in capturing and identifying him, Charlie was not the thief; 
though M 'Sweeny to this day scouts at my explanation, and 
hints only too plainly that it has been concocted out of my 
own imagination. The real truth only came to my knowledge 
many years after, and then through the person principally con- 
cerned, Mr Middleton, and long after Charlie had been drifted 
out of my ken. 

Not a month after the conviction of M'Sweeny's prisoner, 
Mr Middleton chanced to be up in one of the bedrooms in 
the attics, when his attention was attracted by a tiny voice in 
some invisible quarter crying out — 

" Pa-pa ! pa-pa ! Turn an see my pletty housie." 

A look all round the room revealed no child, though the 
voice evidently belonged to the youngest of his children; but 
at length the soutfd led him to a temporary door, which had 
been affixed to a recess under the slates, which had been in- 
tended to hold a cistern, but had never been needed for that 
purpose. The door was much too low for a man to enter easily, 



THE BLOOD-STONE RING. 143 

but by stooping he managed to get his head in, and by the 
light coming in at a single pane of plate-glass inserted in the 
slates, he saw his youngest born, and therefore much praised 
and pet son, squatted admiringly in front of the " pletty housie." 
The " housie " consisted of an old starch box, turned on 
its face, on which were arranged a magpie-like hoard of 
bright things which made Mr Middleton's eyes nearly leave their 
sockets. 

" Pletty, pletty, papa ! " cried the child, still crowing over 
its treasures, and clapping its hands; and then the astounded 
father crept in on his hands and knees, and found the missing 
gold watch, card case, silver spoons, and a blood-stone ring ! 
Instinctively his eye travelled to his left hand, on which shone 
a ring the very counterpart of the one he had unearthed ; 
and then, in the impulse of the moment, he shouted out — 

" Jeanie ! Jeanie ! come here and see what I've found !" 

He regretted the impulsive cry a moment after; but Jeanie, 
who was on the same landing making beds, ran in in a moment 
to see the find and hear him say — • 

" Well, if there isn't every one of those things that your 
sweetheart was sent to jail for stealing — aye, even the very 
ring !" 

" I knew he was innocent ! I told you he was, and you 
wouldn't believe me," cried Jeanie, with a burst of tears. " I'll 
go to the Office at once, and have you put in his place for false 
swearing." 

" Hush ! it was a mistake — I can't be punished for a 
mistake," said Mr Middleton, looking horribly crestfallen, 
and trying to divert her attention by walloping well the child 
who had innocently caused all the mischief. " I am willing to 
make him and you liberal compensation if you will say nothing 
about it to any one." 

With many tears and wringings of the hands, and protesta- 
tions that she could never hear of such a thing, Jeanie at last 
listened, but held out so rigidly for high terms that for a time 
her master all but dared her to do her worst. A night's reflec- 
tion brought them both to a more reasonable frame of mind, 
and then Jeanie consented, on payment of ^"20, to say nothing 
of the discovery, and to get Charlie to do likewise. 

And did she fully implement her agreement and impatiently 
await the hour which should set Charlie free and restore him 
to her eager arms? Alas for the fickleness of womankind! 
Jeanie furnished a house with the twenty pounds, married the 



H4 THE BLOOD STONE RING. 

baker who had brought round the bread a month after receiv- 
ing the money, and left her former lover Charlie to languish 
out his term in blissful ignorance of the discovery that had 
taken place in his favour. 

To this day he does not know the injustice he suffered at 
her hands, though he may now read the truth for himself. 



THE WIFE-KILLER. 145 



THE WIFE-KILLER. 

The man was a sailor, I could see, but it was the expression 
of his face that most powerfully interested me, as he sauntered 
in and sat down to wait his turn in the "reception room." 
Blank despair was there, and that woe-begone, reckless look 
which I have seen dozens of times on the faces of men and 
women who have tried to commit suicide, and either failed or 
been rescued. There was also an ill-suppressed excitement 
affecting him, as I could see by the powerful quivering of his 
hands as he cut himself a bit of tobacco. 

" Been having a spree and lost his money or watch, and 
now comes to us for help," was my mental comment, so I was 
in no hurry to attend to him. His first words, however, both 
undeceived and startled me. 

" My name is Matthew Harris, and I've come to give myself 
up." 

I stared at him, trying in vain to remember any one of that 
name who was "wanted." 

" What for ? What have you done ? " I said, after a pause. 

" For killing my wife. She was buried about a month ago, 
and I've had no rest ever since." 

I thought I understood it now. The man was mad, and like 
many more in that unhappy condition imagined himself guilty 
of murder. 

I took him to a quieter room, and tried to engage him in 
conversation till the medical inspector could be brought to 
examine him. But my delicacy was quite thrown away upon 
the self-accused sailor, who was a man of great intelligence and 
penetration, for he read my thoughts like a book, and promptly 
said — 

" I know what you think. You're saying to yourself, ' Oh, 
here's another madman — I'll have to humour him a bit;' but 
you're wrong. I'm not mad, nor likely to be — I only wish I 
was; I'd get some kind of rest then." 

"If you killed your wife, how comes it that we have heard 
s. c. k 



146 THE WIFE-KILLER. 

nothing of the crime?" I quietly remarked. "How was the 
thing done ?" 

"Oh, there's lots o' ways o'killin' folk that nobody ever dreams 
on," wearily returned Harris. " Nobody thought I'd harmed a 
hair of her head; and nobody would yet, only my conscience 
won't let me off. I thought, before she was gone, that if ever 
anybody deserved to be helped out of the world it was her, but 
when folks are in the grave you come to think different on 'em." 

"You were unhappy, then?" 

" Mortal unhappy. Nobody knows but myself what I suf- 
fered through that woman — as drunken a jade as ever crawled the 
earth. If I didn't know it, I couldn't believe that it was the 
same lass that I used to sweetheart and look forward to seeing 
at the end of the voyage. She was as pretty and good as any 
on earth then, but she took to drink after we was married — 
little by littles — and then it got such hold on her that she 
couldn't help herself. First she drank all my savings, then she 
drank her clothes, and then she began to drink the furniture." 

" And you tried to stop it, of course ? " 

" Might as well have whistled for wind in a dead calm — she 
wouldn't be stopped; and as I was at sea most of the time, 
I'd no proper idea what a miserable woman she'd growed to. 
I thought when the child came it would pull her up a bit, but 
it didn't for long. I was sort o' built up on the wee thing, I 
will admit ; — " and the man wiped the sweat from his brow 
rather slowly to hide something else. " It was so like what 
she'd been when she was pure, and young, and sweet; and, as 
I didn't know how it was neglected while I was away, I never 
took thought of evil. I was always thinking of the child when 
I was away, seeing that its mother was not worth thinking of 
now, and looked for'ard to the time when it would be a grown- 
up lass, able to watch its mother and keep her outen harm's 
way. My God ! when I think of it, I sometimes feel as if she 
deserved to die after all." 

"How? what? did she injure the child?" 

"I was coming up Leith Walk, one bitter cold morning 
before six o'clock, when our ship had just got in, and was 
thinking what a nice surprise I'd give to the child when I got 
home. I'd a little squeaking doll in my pocket for it, and no 
end of sweeties I'd brought from Rotterdam. When. I was 
ha"lf-way up Leith Walk I comes on a crowd of working men, 
and such like, who were gathered round a ragged little infant 
they'd found lying 'bout dead in the frozen gutter. It had 



THE WIFE-KILLER. 147 

been left there for God knows how long — most likely all night 
— and was just about gone when the policeman got it and put 
his coat about it. I swore a bit at the unnatural father and 
mother that could leave such a little thing there, and went as 
far as the Police Station with the crowd, and then heard that 
the poor little thing was dead. I then went home, and found 
the door of my house open, but nobody at home. Then some- 
body told me that my wife had been took up drunk the night 
before. Nobody know'd anything about the child. I went to 
the station and found my wife, but she didn't know what she'd 
done with it neither. Don't know how it was, but the minute 
she said that, my heart went all cold and dead as a lump of 
lead, and I thought straight of the little thing I'd seen picked 
up on the street. ' If that's my little Chicky' — I used to call 
her that — I said to myself, ' I'll never hold up my head again.' 
I went down to the station-house, and got them to show me 
the frozen little thing. It was my little Chicky, stiff as a stone. 
I took out the little toys I'd brought for her, and let 'em drop 
on the floor — they was no use to me now. I'm not hard- 
hearted, but I couldn't cry — there wasn't a bit of cry in me. 
The men in the place seemed to take on more than me, and 
said some kind words which I didn't rightly hear, I was so 
struck to see Chicky dead. Then I took her up in my arms, 
and axed the loan of a coat to cover her over while I carried 
her to my house ; and they sent a man to follow and watch me 
in case I should drop dead on the way. Wish't I had — wish't 
I had!" 

" I think I remember that case," I interposed in a subdued 
whisper. " Your wife was tried for it, and got six months' 
imprisonment." 

" I saw Chicky buried, and then sent word to my wife that I 
was done with her; that she'd get half of my pay as soon as she 
came out of prison, but that she and I must be same as 
strangers. But what's the use of saying anything or arranging 
anything with a woman whose brain is sodden with whisky ? 
She wouldn't be shook off — she drank harder than ever, and 
followed me through the streets screaming after me, and mak- 
ing the crowds believe I'd killed her child — the pure little thing 
that she'd been in prison for killing. She'd got her whole 
brain turned upside down, and thought everything the opposite 
of what it was. Sometimes I was near killed by the mobs she 
raised about me; and once I was as near turning on her in the 
Street and killing her as any one ever was without doing it— 



148 THE WIFE-KILLER. 



only by accident I'd changed my clothes that morning, and 
hadn't my knife with me — thank God for His mercy !" 

I thought it rather odd that he should be thankful for 
having spared her, and yet kill her after all, but I said nothing. 

"You were sorely tried," I remarked, after a pause. 

"I got sick of life altogether. What had I to live for?" he 
wearily returned. " I wished many a time, when the wind rose 
of a night, that it would blow me to the bottom of the sea, and 
often went aloft, or crossed the deck in a storm as careless as 
could be, hoping I'd be swept away, but death wouldn't have 
anything to do with me. Then I got desperate, and one night 
took a pan of charcoal into my bunk, saying it was horrible 
cold ; but before I was half suffocated, our captain, who's a 
schoolmate of mine and likes me uncommon, came down and 
hunted me out, and then fines me smartly, just to hide the fact 
that I'd been trying to choke myself. Says he when we got 
into harbour, ' Mat, there's the money that'll be stopped out of 
your pay ; but before I give it you, or let you go ashore, you'll 
have to promise me not to try suicide again.' ' Who said it 
was suicide?' I said, sort of bold like; but he only shook his 
head sad like, and gripped me by the hand, and then said, ' I'm 
sorry for you, Mat; but don't fret about her, nor try to rob the 
world of such a good honest man. She's not worth it. Just 
have patience, and she'll drink herself to death some day, and 
then you'll get rid of your troubles.' I couldn't say much — I 
was so took round the heart by his kind way of putting it and 
of screening me from the men, and I made the promise right 
off; but somehow, when I came to think his words over, they 
began to stir me with a curious feeling. The devil — or some- 
thing as bad as the devil — put the thought into my head, and 
then gave me no peace till I'd followed it out. ' She'll drink 
herself to death' was his words — the prompting of the other one 
was, ' Help her to do it now. Give her as much drink as she can 
swallow, and the thing will soon be over. She will kill herself, 
and no one else be to blame.' I thought it capital, and got a 
keg of brandy — the strongest I could buy — and had it took to 
the house. I found she was lying ill, having had a bad attack 
of the delirium tremens, and there was a stupid old woman 
looking after her in the way of nursing, as she couldn't afford 
a proper nurse. When I went into her room, and showed her 
the present I'd brought her, her eyes near jumped out of her 
head with joyfulness, and I could see she was fair dying to get 
ma and the old woman out of the way, so's she might do a 



TBE WlPE-KILLER. 149 

burster with the brandy. I left the place all of a tremble, and 
couldn't get that look of hers outen my head. I knew I'd 
done a horrible thing, yet I hadn't strength of mind to go back 
and prevent it. I went back again in a day or two after and 
found she was dead, and the keg empty." 

I did not know what rejoinder to make, and remained silent. 
Put before me as he had put it, it certainly looked a horrible 
plan; and its complete success in a manner took the breath 
away. Yet even while stupidly staring at him, there came to 
me the curious thought— Could he be held responsible for a 
death that was purely the act of the woman herself? That 
would depend entirely upon whether the woman, at the time 
of receiving the present, was a responsible being, and whether 
her medical attendant had forbidden or allowed her to use 
spirits at discretion. 

" Of course, in a sense, you were responsible for her death," 
I at length observed. " You are quite sure that you did not 
force her to swallow the drink?" 

"Quite sure of that; she needed no forcing," was the 
despairing reply. " I did not even see her drink it. She was 
so changed and wasted that I couldn't bear to look at her. 
When she was dead I didn't feel relieved, or happy, or free, as 
I had expected I would. I couldn't get her face away from 
me. I saw it night and day, and it wasn't the bloated face she 
had when she died, but sweet and fair as it was when we was 
sweethearts. And it wasn't reproachful or angry — I could 
have stood that better — it was always kind and gentle as if she 
was saying, ' You killed me, but I'll watch over you and see 
that you come to no harm.'" 

"All imagination," I suggested. 

" Not imagination — conscience," he wearily responded. " I'm 
a murderer in thought and deed — the mark of Cain is on me, 
and I'm done with the world, and only wanting to die and be 
at rest." 

By this time my idea that the man was insane had vanished. 
He was too circumstantial and minute in his particulars, some 
of which I had recognised as actual facts, to be crazed. He 
did not wander in his statements, or say anything monstrous 
or absurd. 

The whole told like a burning and truthful page from the 
book of everyday life. But, with this conviction, which was 
speedily confirmed by the medical inspector, came a second 
curious suspicion. I thought it just possible that Harris had 



150 THE WIFE-KILLER. 

helped his wife away in some way that he did not care to 
mention. I had no reason for thinking so, I admit, and what 
roused the thought I cannot tell, but there it was, and there it 
remained. 

To deal with the case as it stood was not an easy task; but as 
soon as Harris was pronounced sane he was locked up, while 
we went to search out the medical man who had attended Mrs 
Harris in her last illness. With some difficulty we found the 
doctor, and recalled to his memory the drunken wife of the 
sailor. The first question of importance was — 

" At the time that Mrs Harris was last visited by her husband, 
had she perfectly recovered her reason — was she a responsible 
person, who could be trusted to take much or little spirits as 
she might think she required it? : ' 

"Certainly; she was perfectly able to take care of herself in 
that respect; but I had warned her to be cautious in future, or 
I would not be responsible for the consequences." 
k> She was nearly well, then, at that time?'' 
" She was so well that I expected to find her out of bed 
when next I called, and did not look in for two or three days. 
When I did call she was dead — had died that very morning, the 
old woman said, though she admitted that she could not tell 
the hour, as she had been asleep at the time " 
" Were you not astonished'?" 

" I was indeed, and not at the death alone, but at the 
appearance of the deceased. I know that she was in the habit 
of drinking laudanum, and would have felt certain that she had 
died of an overdose of that drug, but the appearance of the 
body belied that. The face was distorted, and the hands 
clenched as in agony — quite unlike the peaceful repose ol 
laudanum poisoning." 

l> Did you not make any examination or inquiry?' 
" I wished to do so, but the husband objected when he was 
sent for." 

"Then how did you report the death?" 
" I reported it as ' Of uncertain seat — Intemperance.'" 
"And yet you thought she had been poisoned?" 
"At first I thought that possible, but then changed my 
mind. The appearances were more like those of convulsions, 
or the agony of an irritant poison, than those of laudanum. 
There was an empty laudanum phial lying in front of the bed 
— a two-ounce bottle, if I remember rightly. It may have 
been that which suggested the idea of poisoning to my mind." 



THE WIFE-KILLER. 151 

" Did it not strike you as being a case of simple asphyxia? 
Such cases are common with persons addicted to heavy 
drinking." 

" It was not that — I made sure of that whenever I learned that 
she was dead. I believe the woman had had little or no drink 
for nearly a month before her death, except the prescribed 
quantity ordered by me." 

This answer did not tally with our own information, but we 
did not correct the statement. We simply had several con- 
sultations, and then got power to exhume the body of the 
deceased. Before this was done, however, I had a visit from 
the captain of Harris's vessel, accompanied by his sister, and 
both pleaded warmly and eloquently that Harris was a little 
upset by his troubles, and only blamed himself for his wife's 
death because he was a soft, good-hearted fellow, brimful of 
affection. It appeared that in his trouble Harris had always 
found shelter and sympathy with these friends, and so an affec- 
tion almost deeper than friendship had been created between 
them. From the flashing glance and indignant tones of the 
captain's sister, Miss Philip, when speaking of the doings of the 
deceased, I could see that all her sympathies lay with the unfortu- 
nate seaman. This was no doubt very pleasing to witness, but it 
manifestly weakened their testimony in favour of Harris; and, 
singularly enough, while these two friends were busy accumula- 
ting evidence that Harris was in a manner temporarily insane 
and not to be listened to, the case was assuming a darker 
phase in another direction. 

The body of Mary Harris, on being examined, showed 
unmistakable evidence that she had died from the effects of a 
powerful irritant poison. The coat of the stomach, indeed, 
was almost burned through by the corrosive mixture, and it was 
clear that death could have been brought about by but one 
doze of such a poison. It also seemed evident that the 
deceased could not have committed suicide, as she had always 
expressed the most lively horror of death, and had not been 
able to leave her bed, far less the house, to procure or swallow 
such a poison; the house, moreover, on being searched, revealed 
no trace of such a poison ; and the inference was naturally that 
the poisoner had removed everything likely to criminate after 
the deed was done. 

I now thought that I understood more clearly Harris's 
remorse and despair; and I anticipated no difficulty in drawing 
from him the full confession of his guilt. Imagine my surprise, 



152 THE WIFE-KILLER. 



then, on hinting at these facts, when he first opened his eyes 
in lively horror and surprise, and then declared, with the 
utmost solemnity, that he at least was free from all knowledge 
of the crime, or complicity in the deed. 

Questioned in every way, he adhered to his statement; and 
while admitting frankly that he had wished his wife dead, and 
presented her with the keg of brandy in hope of bringing about 
that, swore that he had never dreamed of administering an 
irritant poison, or of even putting such a poison within her 
reach. This declaration by itself would have gone for little in 
the face of the medical evidence; but another curious fact came 
out in the post-mortem examination, which seemed to under- 
mine the most important statement in Harris's confession. 
This was that there were no indications of the deceased having 
recently indulged inordinately in brandy; indeed, all the 
medical testimony went to prove most emphatically that brandy 
was not the cause of the death. Here was a mystery ; and as 
usual I was turned to with the words — ■ 

"Well, Mr M'Govan, there's some work for you. See what 
you can make of it." 

At this stage I was absolutely without a theory of any kind, 
though still inclined to think that Harris knew more than he 
would admit. But there was one point in the case which, it 
seemed to me, I ought to be able to clear up, though the main 
feature should for ever remain unsolved — that was, whither and 
how the brandy had so mysteriously vanished in the short 
space of three days. The medical evidence seemed to show 
that little or none of it had gone into the mouth of the de- 
ceased, yet on her death Harris had found the keg empty. 
Brandy is not generally allowed to evaporate — to waste its 
sweetness on the desert air — until part of its fire has been im- 
parted to some dry throat or eager palate. Who, then, had 
swallowed this? I had already discovered that Mrs Harris's 
friends had in a manner taken charge of her, so far as to inter- 
diet all her neighbours from entering the house, as they were 
under the impression that some articles of value had in that 
way been stolen. They also provided a kind of attendant in 
the shape of an old woman, who was glad of a few shillings a 
week and her food to keep her out of the poor-house. 

" I'll have a hunt for her," was my first reflection. " I 
shouldn't wonder but she'll be a drouthy body." 

Janet Petrie had a house of her own, that is, a little garret 
which was sublet to her by the real tenant of the house; but I 



THE WIFE-KILLER. 153 

found her room empty, and the landlady somewhat concerned 
about the few sticks of furniture being in the way of her letting 
the room. Janet was " away," she said; but on inquiring 
more sharply what that meant, I received the mysterious but 
significant reply — 

" Oh— Number Ten." 

I understood at once — the Ward in the Infirmary allotted to 
patients suffering from delirium tremens. 

"She has been drinking, then?" I said, with apparent 
indifference. 

" Oh, ay; she had her box there filled wi' bottles o' brandy; 
and when she cam' hame she jist set to and drank and drank 
till she drank hersel' daft and the bottles toom, and then we 
had to pack her aff to Number Ten." 

I had a suspicion that the woman who tendered this informa 
tion had herself taken an active part in the " tooming " of the 
bottles, but said nothing, and went out to Number Ten, where 
I found old Janet Petrie in her right mind, but very weak. 
Indeed, her first words in answer to me gave me hope of find- 
ing her both pliable and truthful in her answers. 

" I'm near deid, that's a fact. I dinna ken if I'll ever get 
better," she said. " Ser'd me richt for takin' what wasna my 
aim" 

"What did ye tak', wuman?" I asked, with a smile. 

" A wee drap brandy. I was nursing a puir body that had 
nae need for it — it wad jist have dune her herm — so I filled a 
bottle oot o' the keg and took it hame." 

" Only ae bottle?" I banteringly inquired. 

"Weel, weel — maybe twa." 

" Hout, wuman, ye may as weel tell the truth," I lightly re- 
turned. " Did ye tak' a : the brandy, or only a part o't?" 

" Oh, weel, I didna leave muckle o't," was the slow answer. 
" I wad have been better withoot it. 'Od, it set me fair daft; 
I dinna mind o' them bringing me in here." 

"Ay, Janet, my wuman, that's a geyan common experience,'' 
said I, with a laugh at her solemnly puckered face and lips. 
" But they're saying that Mrs Harris didna come to her death 
by fair means, and her man will hae to stand his trial sune for 
that very crime." 

The face of the old woman, as I gave her this news, under- 
went some remarkable changes, and in her surprise and ex- 
citement she actually had strength enough to rise and sit up in 
bed. 



i54 fcffS WIFE-KILLER. 

"Then the puir man is innocent; I can prove that!" she 
exclaimed, with great eagerness. 

" But he says he's guilty," said I in return. " He says he 
gied her the brandy in the hope that she would drink herself 
deid, and she did it." 

"The brandy?" retorted the old woman, with a pucker ot 
the lips. " There was never a drap o't gaed doon her throat — 
I wish there had — I wad maybe no been here the noo." 

"Ay, but there's mair than that," I continued; "for Mrs 
Harris's body has been lifted, and it's quite certain that she was 
poisoned." 

A scared and blanched look crept over the old woman's 
face, and for a moment she could not speak. 

" And will he — will he be hanged for that?" she at length 
faintly stammered. 

" Yes, if he is found guilty." 

" But he couldna have poisoned her — he was never near hei 
but ance, and that was when he brought her the brandy,' 
tremulously continued the old woman. " I ken he didna dae't; 
surely my word sud gang for something?" 

"Then how did the poison get into her stomach?" I curi- 
ously inquired, pretty sure that something was behind all the 
excitement and flutter. 

" Wad the body be hanged that put it in her road?" cauti- 
ously inquired the old woman after a long pause. 

"Certainly, if it was done with the intention of taking her 
life," I decidedly answered. 

"But if it was an accident?" persisted the trembling woman. 
" There's mony an accident happens, and naebody to blame." 

" Tme, but how could an accident happen ? You had charge 
of the woman, and surely you took care that she should get 
nothing in the shape of poison ? " 

" It wasna my faut," tremulously answered the old woman, 
wringing her hands and getting unnerved. " I tell't her what 
was in the bottle, and she said she wud mind, and what mail 
could I dae?" 

" Tell us about that, Janet, and I'm sure if it was an accident 
naebody will blame you." 

'• Weel, the plain truth is that Mrs Harris, wi' lying whiles on 
the cauld grand, or daidling aboot on weet nichts half-fou, had 
got her body filled wi' rheumatic pains, and she got me to get 
her a bottle o' liniment that had dune me guid withoot letting 
on to the doctor. It was marked ' Poison — for external use 



THE WIFE-KILLER. 155 

only,' and a very guid liniment it was. I used to pit it on for 
her, and we had used near the hale bottle, when ae day I 
wanted a biggish bottle to bring her some lime-water in. 
There was just a wee drappie in it, but I didna like to waste it, 
so I put it in an empty laudanum bottle that stood on the 
chair at her bedside. She was looking at me daein' it, and I 
said to her, ' Mind an' no drink this by mistake,' and she said, 
' I'll mind.' I took the liniment bottle and got it filled wi' 
lime-water, after I had washed it oot very particularly ; but she 
never needed the lime-water after a'. I slept raither sound 
that nicht, and in the morning wondered at her lying sae quiet; 
and then, when I lookit closer, I saw she was deid, an' a' 
crunkled up as if she had dee'd in pain. The laudanum bottle 
that the liniment had been in was lying on the bed pane 
empty, and she was stiff. I think she had waukened in the 
nicht in a half-donnert state, and forgotten aboot the laudanum 
bein' dune and the liniment being in its place, and tooken a 
pu' at the bottle, as she often did when she wanted to sleep. 
I was awfu' feared, and I washed oot the bottle very carefully 
afore I sent for the doctor." 

" And where were you at the time that she died ? " 

" Sleeping at the fireside in a chair." 

"AVere you drunk the night before?" 

"No me; I had had a guid drappie, but I was jist fair worn 
oot wi' want o' sleep." 

" And you heard no cry nor noise during the night? " 

"No a cheep." 

I began to see through the strange case now, but did not 
accept at once the statement of Janet Petrie. I sifted it to its 
core, and found it confirmed in its curious details by various 
facts and witnesses, until I was prepared to put the whole case 
as she had stated it before my superiors. Mrs Petrie was soon 
sufficiently recovered to bear removal to the police cells, and 
she then gave other facts and evidence confirmatory of her 
first statement; and from these it was made all but certain that 
the miserable woman had been poisoned by accidentally 
swallowing a poisonous liniment. Poor Harris, M-hen the 
matter was explained to him, could hardly believe his senses, 
and seemed like a man suddenly pulled back from death to 
life. His wife was dead, but he had not caused that death — • 
that was where the joyous relief came in; and shortly after, 
when his captain came to conduct him from prison to his own 
home, I heard him say as their hands met — 



1 5^ THE WIPE-klLLER. 

"No more suicides, or repining, or bad thoughts now, Jim) 
I'm going to begin life anew." 

Harris is now brother-in-law to his own captain, and I be- 
lieve is as happy as any man afloat. Janet Petrie was de- 
tained for about a week, and then discharged with a severe 
reprimand. 



SELF EXECUTIONERS. 157 



SELF EXECUTIONERS. 

Seven years make a wonderful difference on most of us — 
not only in our appearance, but our sentiments. Time seems 
to rub the corners off us, smooth out the furrows of hate, and 
in some cases replace them by the softer lines of friendship, 
affection, or love. At one part of our lives some one injures 
us, and we vow vengeance on him the first time he shall come 
within our reach. Years pass; the hot rage evaporates; we 
look upon him first with indifference, then with a pitying smile 
at his shallow cunning or treachery, and then possibly with a 
tinge of admiration. 

" Slotty," otherwise Mr Pete Brimmer, and his friend 
"Sheffield Blade," otherwise Mr Robert Nailer, parted for their 
respective sentences of Ten Years, as recorded in " Larks," 
with the worst possible feeling towards each other. Slotty was 
enraged at having stupidly used his tobacco knife on the wrong 
man; and the " Blade" was enraged on the principle that the 
injurer is always the aggrieved person, and because he errone- 
ously blamed Slotty for his arrest and conviction. Had they 
but been allowed ten minutes for friendly intercourse in a quiet 
cell, with their paws unfastened, and the merest stump of a 
tobacco knife each, I have no doubt that the country would 
have been saved a considerable sum, even allowing for a couple 
of convicts' funerals. It would also have saved me a great 
deal of trouble and hard work ; but only a select few earn their 
pay without working for it, and from that class I have hitherto 
been rigidly excluded. 

Slotty and Sheffield Blade being professional criminals and 
old jail birds, at once settled down into the old groove, and 
became well-behaved convicts, penitent and pious to a fault 
before the chaplain, and humbly obsequious to warders and 
turnkeys, and so earned their full share of marks; while I have 
no doubt many a wretched amateur of a criminal, in for 
scribbling down some name that was not legally his own, would 
be rebelling hotly at petty tyrannies or gross outrages, and be 
thus compelled to serve his full term. 



1 5 8 SELF EXE CUTIONERS. 

The fact that both convicts, though separated by a county 
or two, had pursued the same virtuous practice, was testified by 
them being set at liberty within a few days of each other. Both 
were human, however, and both had had time to cool down 
and reflect; and, when they met in Edinburgh, instead of 
grabbing madly at the nearest weapon, they all but embraced, 
and spent the first few days of their liberty in friendly carousal. 
" When criminals unite, let honest folk tremble," says the 
thieves' proverb in its own peculiar language; and I had no 
sooner noted the renewed friendship of the old enemies than I 
said to some one, " There will be work on our hands before 
long, unless we manage to nip up one of these rascals soon." 
And I was right. " Sheffield Blade " had as much cunning 
and planning power as would have stocked a half-dozen 
criminals ; Slotty had determination and endurance for the 
same number ; so what could be expected from the new 
league but a case as puzzling as it was difficult to unravel? 
Besides, as I have frequently had to show, an odd chance 
incident often steps into a case to upset the nicest calculations, 
and as one appeared in this, it thus, added to the number, 
puzzled the criminals themselves. 

One afternoon a gaudily dressed young girl stepped into a 
jeweller's shop over in the New Town, bearing in her hand a 
common silver brooch wanting the pin. But a moment or two 
before her entrance, two things had happened which had some 
influence upon the things which followed. The first was that 
Mr Fairley, the jeweller, had left the shop to go home for 
dinner, and the second was that a girl had gone into the shop 
with a basket containing the shopman's "tea." The shopman 
was thus busy in the back-room over this meal when the young 
woman entered. The two places were separated by a partition 
and a door, the upper half of which was filled with obscured 
glass in lieu of panels. At the moment that the bell of the 
outer glass door sounded, the shopman was seated with his 
back to the door of the inner room, and, as he was in the act 
of swallowing a bite, did not rise instantly to go to the front. 
When he did appear behind the counter, the girl simply showed 
him the brooch, said she wanted a new pin put into it, and 
asked how soon it was possible to do the trifling job. A time 
being fixed, her name was taken down and a printed ticket 
handed to her, and then she left the shop, while the man 
returned and finished his meal without further interruption. 

All this was such a simple and every-day occurrence — not 



SELF EXECUTIONERS. 159 

excepting the apparent character of the customer — that the 
man thought no more of the circumstance, and certainly never 
dreamed of connecting it with what followed. He did not 
mention it to me or any one, and, if he had, it is scarcely 
possible that I should have gleaned anything from the state- 
ment. 

Three or four hours later the shop was closed as usual, and 
that means that it was made almost impregnable to burglars. 
At that time the open slots in doors and shutters, with lights 
left burning in the shops, had not been adopted; but this 
particular shop, though the stock was not very large, was 
so well protected, that several attempts to break into it had 
failed miserably. The back windows were not only heavily 
barred without, but secured within by steel-lined shutters, the 
front shop was as firmly secured, and the workshop was 
below the whole, and accessible only from the shop above. 

By a fortunate stroke of luck most of the jewellery had that 
night been taken from the windows and show-cases, and con- 
signed to iron safes in the back part of the shop; but still 
enough was left both in the shop and the workshop to afford 
decent pickings for any one able to gain entrance. 

Next morning, when the shop was opened as usual by the 
shopman already mentioned, in company with the foreman 
jeweller, there were some signs of confusion and disorder to 
which their eyes were not accustomed. A number of plated 
articles were lying on the floor behind the counter, as if they 
had been disdainfully tossed down by thieves intent on purer 
metal; some trays of small articles which had not been consigned 
to the safes had been tumbled out on the counter, and hurriedly 
weeded of their best contents. With the first glance at the 
place the shopman exclaimed — 

"There's surely not been a robbery? Shut the door, Jim, 
and put your back against it, till I have a look round." 

This clear-headed suggestion was promptly acted upon, and 
the shopman soon returnee! from below with the news that the 
place had been broken into, and about a dozen watches, more 
or less valuable, which had been sent in to repair, had been 
taken, as well as other articles, to the value of about ;£i8o 
altogether. There were also distinct traces of skeleton keys 
having been tried on the iron safes, but without effect. Strange 
to say, there were no marks as of the powerful crowbars 
generally used on such occasions on hinges and locks. But 
the greatest wonder was to come, 



i6e SELF EXECUTIONERS. 



The man, in his hurried exclamation, had said that the place 
had been "broken into;" but a close examination of the whole 
shop, back and front, and above and below, revealed no trace 
f any breakage whatever of wall, door, plaster, roof, or floor. 
The thieves had evidently been in, but how had they got in 
and out again ? That was what puzzled the two first discoverers 
of the crime, and what continued to puzzle us as soon as we 
were summoned to examine the premises. I could discover 
no misplaced bolt or tampered lock; no gap in ceiling or floor; 
no means of either entrance or exit; yet there were the 
ev'dences of their presence patent to every eye. In my sus- 
picion I even examined the chimneys of shop and workshop, 
only to find that they were secured by being each crossed by a 
strong iron bar, which no burglar could have removed except 
with incredible exertion. 

To say that I was staggered and puzzled by the case does 
not convey a full idea of my feelings. I was completely upset 
and brought to a stand-still, and may truthfully admit that I 
never once thought of either Sheffield Blade or Slotty as the 
active hands in the job. 

After a diligent examination of every inch of the shop — 
including every safe, and case, and shelf — I came to the con- 
clusion that the place had been entered in the usual way, by 
using the keys of the place, or fabricated duplicates of those 
keys. This idea was utterly fallacious, but it is as well to 
notice it, as it ied to a great deal of sifting and searching, for 
which I had nothing to show. Warned by my experience in 
another case, I tried to discover some means by which the 
keys of the place might have been got out of Mr Fairley's 
possession; and finding that they had positively never been out 
of his hands even for a minute, I was forced to suspect the 
man who generally called for them in the morning and opened 
the shop. The man had already plainly told me that he knew 
he would be suspected, and altogether conducted himself so 
like an innocent man that I was brought to this conclusion 
only with the greatest reluctance, a feeling in which his employer 
warmly joined. This, however, did not prevent me from 
arresting the man and searching his house, as well as making 
strict inquiry into all his connections and his actions before the 
robbery. All this active work on my part produced nothing. 
We found no trace of the stolen articles, no trace of the thieves, 
and no evidence that the keys had been copied or used in any 
way. These facts are not very creditable to me, but I give 



SELF EXE C UTL ONERS. 1 6 1 

them to show that a detective is not omnipotent. To show, 
indeed, how grievously I was blundering, and what a simple 
matter would have put me right, I will here go back and give 
the facts of the case as they were afterwards revealed. 

When the girl entered the shop with her brooch to mend, she 
did not enter alone, but had by hei .side the Sheffield Blade him- 
self. The moment they were within, and while the girl was in 
the act of closing the door, the Blade squatted down on his knees 
between her and the door, and close to the outside of the 
broad counter. When the brooch business had been arranged 
the girl left the shop, closing the door after her, and leaving 
the Blade still squatting close in in front of the counter, and 
therefore invisible to the shopman. When the shopman 
returned to the back-room to finish his interrupted meal, the 
Blade wriggled across the floor — still on his hands and knees, 
and therefore below the line of the window in the door of the 
back-room — towards a big show-case facing the counter. This 
case was fully ten feet long, and was fitted with six doors — 
three below of panelled wood, and three above of plate glass. 
The upper half was fitted with mahogany shelves, which were 
covered with plated goods; the lower half was akind of cabinet, 
which was stuffed principally with patterns and odds and ends 
necessary to the trade, but not needed for display. Noiselessly 
opening one of these lower doors, the Blade wriggled himself 
into the bottom half of the case feet foremost, cursing under 
his breath the noise made by his feet among some brown paper 
at the other end of the case, and then as coolly drawing close 
the door behind him. This daring scheme was as near being 
detected at the very outset as any scheme ever was. The 
inside of the door had no handle or protuberance of any kind, 
and even by digging his nails into the edge of one of the 
panels the Blade could not effectually close it. He got the 
door close, but could not get it " snecked," though he fought 
till the very sweat oozed from his short-cut scalp. This was a 
simple difficulty which was entirely unforeseen, and the Blade 
in the despair of the moment expected nothing less than 
instant detection, and a return to the penal servitude he had 
just quitted. Yet even here a singular chance saved him. 
About twenty minutes passed, and then he heard the shopman 
open the glass door of the back-room, and show out the child 
who had brought him the tea. As soon as he had done so 
the eye of the shopman fell on the unfastened door of the case. 
The Blade heard him pause in front of it, and gave himself up 
s. c. L 



i6* SELF EXECUTIONERS. 

for lost; but all the man did was to put down his hand, grasp 
the handle of the door, and shut it with a sharp bang, without 
once dreaming of looking within, or trying to account for it 
being unfastened. Another curious chance saved the Blade 
later in the evening, for Mr Fairley audibly told the shopman 
to "look in the bottom of the big case" for something, and a 
moment after countermanded the order by saying that the 
pattern had been taken downstairs the day before. 

As soon as the shop was vacated and locked up for the 
night, Sheffield Blade, with a long sigh of relief, crawled out of 
his hiding-place, rubbed his cramped limbs, and then seated him- 
self comfortably on one of the high counter chairs, and supped 
heartily off some bread and cheese with which he had provided 
himself. Then he explored the shop; cursed a great deal, 
especially at the inventors of iron safes; and then gathered 
together as much of the stray jewellery as was worth carrying 
away. 

All that he said must remain unrecorded, but as his disap- 
pointment at the locking away of the most of the jewellery was 
keen, the talking must have been both lively and energetic. 
He had a decent-sized pile, it is true, but nothing like what he 
considered a fair reward for such risk and ingenious planning. 

But seeing that the cunning robber was hermetically sealed 
up with the valuables, it may be thought that he was reckoning 
a little too fast. Of what use would the whole treasures of the 
Bank of England be to a thief who was as safely locked up as 
its gold? Let us see. The Sheffield Blade had little hope of 
getting out of prison easily, but he had made some provision 
for the plunder. In a recess in the back part of the establish- 
ment was a closet having one deep, square window — that is, a 
hole through the wall, two and a-half feet deep and nine inches 
square, strongly guarded by one solid bar of iron, sunk deep 
into the stones. By thrusting his arm up to the socket in this 
curious little window, the Blade could just show his dirty paw 
outside and no more. He could telegraph, and grip, and 
motion, but could at the same time see nothing; added to 
which was the slight drawback that no article above four and a- 
half inches in breadth could be passed out. 

Punctually at twelve o'clock, by the jeweller's regulator clock, 
the Sheffield Blade adjourned to the closet, and, sinking his 
arm to the socket, wagged a signal in the darkness of the com- 
mon green behind. There was a prompt response — the answer 
of his fafthful friend Slotty being the quick thrusting into his 



SELF EXECUTIONERS. 163 

fingers of a half-mutchkin bottle of whisky, which he drew in 
and applied in a luxurious long draw to his lips. This done, 
he took a gold watch from his pile, and thrusting his arm up to 
the socket as before, wagged it as a signal. Strange to say, 
there was no response. He wagged again impatiently and 
incredulously, as much as to say, " What ! will nobody have a 
beautiful gold watch, only slightly out of repair ? " He wagged 
indeed till he was tired, but there being no answer he was 
forced to draw in the prize — cursing much in a suppressed 
voice as he did so. After a pause he again thrust out his hand 
and signalled, when his paw was at once grasped in the unmis- 
takable thieves' grip. He then tried the watch again; it was 
deftly removed ; and so he continued passing out the plunder 
till the whole pile was gone. He then signalled that he meant 
to hand out no more, and returned to the adjoining room to 
exercise his skill in vain upon the locks of the safes. There 
were abundance of hammers and wedges in the workshop 
below, but he hesitated to use them on account of the noise, 
and would have given anything for a strong crowbar, which he 
had neither been able to bring with him nor thought of asking 
Slotty to pass into him. The few skeleton keys he carried 
with him were feeble and useless; so after an hour or two's 
hard work he gave up the task, and proceeded— not to break 
out of the building, which was impossible, but to prepare for 
the rest he had so industriously earned. 

The sweetest happiness we can enjoy upon earth is to look 
back on hard work successfully accomplished. Had the Biade, 
then, not the surest guarantee of a sound sleep? Everything 
soft in the shape of paper and workmen's jackets and aprons 
he collected and conveyed to his sleeping place, which wis — 
where do you think? The case which had hidden him was 
surmounted by a broad and deep cornice of mahogany, much 
like that which crowns the most of bookcases, and behind that 
was a proportionately roomy hollow or recess, nine inches deep, 
ten feet long, and more than a foot broad. This elevated 
perch, indeed, could not have suited him better had it been 
made and planned for his reception. Peacefully the hard- 
working Sheffield Blade laid his head on his pillow of stolen 
coats and slumbered till morning, till the very inserting of the 
key in the front door by the shopman. 

During all the alarm and shouts of discovery, the Blade lay 
listening with the most lively interest, not unmixed with con- 
cern for himself. And when I appeared, and began at one en4 



1 64 SELF EXECUTIONERS. 

of the place and ended my search at the other, he all but gave 
himself up for lost. I even, it seems, stood up on a chair to 
examine the top shelf of the case, little dreaming that a few 
inches higher would have revealed the reclining form of the 
Blade to my eyes. To look back on the oversight seems 
idiotically stupid, I admit; but at the time I was not thinking 
of the thief actually being on the premises, having all but 
decided that the job was the work of an amateur, not a pro- 
fessional criminal. I completed my examination and left the 
place, and then the Blade began to look out for an opportunity 
of leaving his perch. He had fully expected to get such a 
chance in the course of the day, but the stir and excitement of 
the robbery brought too many into the shop, and night found 
him still imprisoned, half famished, and beginning to get 
seriously concerned. After the shop was shut up, he ventured 
down, and signalled several times through the closet window, 
and at last was rewarded by having a parcel of bread and beef, 
and the indispensable whisky, thrust into his hand by the faith- 
ful Slotty. It is possible that Slotty — who had learned a little 
writing and reading in prison — might have conveyed to the 
Blade at the same time some written message, but the Blade 
had not made good use of his various sentences, and could 
neither read nor write. After another night's rest on the top 
of the case, the Blade, now grown desperate, resolved to get 
out at whatever risk. The shop was opened as usual, except 
that Mr Fairley, who had had new locks put on the door, ac- 
companied his men; and then when the foreman was below, 
and the shopman and his employer at the back, the Blade was 
left for a moment with no one in the front shop but an old 
woman who was busy scrubbing up the floor in front of the 
counter. By and by this woman worked her way back and 
round the end of the counter till she was stooping behind; then 
with a quick scramble and drop, the Blade got down at the end 
of the cornice next to the door. The sound was instantly 
heard by the old woman, who looked up with a start, when the 
Blade nodded cheerfully and said, as he laid his hand on the 
door latch — 

"Nice morning, isn't it?" 

He then vanished from the shop, shutting the door so softly 
that no one heard him go; and having disarmed the woman's 
suspicions so effectually that she never once spoke of having 
seen him, and imagined all along that he was one of the work- 
ing jewellers employed below. 



SELF EXECUTIONERS. 165 

Sheffield Blade was probably elated and happy at what he 
considered the culmination of success ; but if so, his joy was 
brief. He made his way straight to the den of Slotty, whom he 
found alone — his spouse being then in prison. Slotty was all 
joy at seeing him, and hastened to prepare breakfast, and then 
rather puzzled his guest by saying — 

" And where's the swag? " 

" What ? " 

"Where's the swag?" repeated Slotty. "Where did you 
stow it ? " 

"Stow it? I didn't stow it anywhere; I handed it to you 
through the little winder." 

" That'll do for you ! " said Slotty, with a knowing smile. 
" Come on now — no gammon; what did you do with it?" 

There was a horrible pause, during which each thought the 
darkest things of his beloved pal, not unmingled with suggestive 
recollections of the past. 

"Do you mean to tell me you didn't get it all through the 
winder?" said Sheffield Blade, getting livid with passion, and 
speaking with unnatural slowness and distinctness. 

" I mean just that. Soon as I tipped you the bottle I heard 
a noise behind, and saw a man look out of a stable loft behind 
the green, and making sure it was a peg, I bolted. 

Sheffield Blade said nothing, but got out from the back 
lining of his coat a leaden-headed " neddy," which he had the 
reputation of being able to use, and Slotty instantly saw that 
something was wrong, and apprehensively fumbled for his 
tobacco knife. 

"You think to do me wi' that miserable story?" breathed 
the Sheffield Blade, with deadly distinctness. 

" Strike me dead if I'm not telling the truth," cried Slotty, 
in earnest protest. Then a sudden light appeared to dawn on 
him also, and he opened his knife with energy, hissing out the 
words, "Oh! that's your little game, to do me out of my share? 
Say you handed it to me through the winder, and kick up a 
row, all for sake of appearances ! Oho ! thought because you 
done me wunst afore, and got me ten years, you'll do me again, 
eh ? I'll just settle up now tor this and old scores as well." 

Sheffield Blade seemed to have no objections. The ruse of 
Slotty to appropriate the whole of the plunder was too trans- 
parent, he thought, to pass for a moment for the truth, and he 
acutely set the whole down to chagrin at having agreed that 
the Blade's share was to be three-fourths and Slotty's only one 



t66 SELF EXECUTIONERS. 

quarter of the entire proceeds. The table was between them, 
or he would have used his neddy there and then, but instead 
he only turned up the cuff of his right sleeve, saying — 

" Once for all, will you deliver up fair and square or 
not?" 

The reply of Slotty was to snatch up a teapot and hurl it in 
the face of the Blade, who instantly delivered a terrific blow at 
Slotty's head, which was as deftly evaded as had been the 
teapot. Then they slowly circled the table — the one with his 
tobacco knife, and the other grasping his neddy, till at last 
Slotty made a dart forward, and made a beautiful slash at 
Sheffield Blade's arm. 

The dig of the knife and the spurting of the blood roused 
the Blade into action, and he hurled himself across the table 
at his wiry opponent, bringing the neddy crash down on his 
head and shoulder. The rest was easy, for Slotty dropped at 
once — the tobacco knife rolling across the floor from his nerve- 
less grasp, and then the Sneffield Blade had everything his own 
way. He did his work as effectually as if he had been a paid 
executioner employed by Government to rid the world of a 
pest, and shortly after walked out of the place unchallenged, 
leaving Slotty in a state of insensibility from a fractured skull, 
from which he never recovered. 

Slotty was found thus by some one and carried to hospital, 
but as no one had been seen near the place, no one was 
blamed or sought for. No one was at Slotty's funeral, so there 
could be no tears shed, and nothing but smiles of satisfaction 
from all he had troubled during his life greeted the cheerful 
announcement that he was at last beneath the turf. 

Sheffield Blade, however, could not get rid of the idea that 
he was being pursued, and at once got into hiding, the place 
of safety selected being fortunately a hole beneath the floor of 
a condemned land, and immediately above a common sewer 
which had providentially become interrupted in its flow. The 
consequences might easily be foreseen. 

Breathing the horrible air of this hole for some days — eating 
in it and sleeping in it — he imbibed enough poison to have 
killed a whole colony of criminals. At the end of the week he 
felt so bad that he crawled out and said he didn't feel well. 
He was taken to the Infirmary all but insensible, and it was 
then found to be a case of malignant typhoid. Sheffield Blade 
lingered just long enough to rave out most of the facts I have 
put down, and then I had a search in one of the stables im- 



SELF EXECUTIONERS. 167 

mediately behind the jeweller's shop, resulting in the discovery 
of a hide in the loft containing most of the stolen articles. 

A groom who kept the keys of this place strongly denied all 
knowledge of the robbery; but when we found one of the stolen 
articles in his possession, and two more in his home, he ad- 
mitted having been in the green on the night of the robbery, 
whence he had seen a man escape in a scared manner, and 
having had the articles handed out by some one whom he had 
never seen or heard of. This story, which I now believe to be 
strictly true, seemed so utterly absurd to judge and jury when 
he came to be tried, that they unanimously found him guilty of 
housebreaking and reset, and awarded him the full penalty of 
seven years' penal servitude. Who after that will say that a 
penniless thief like Sheffield Blade cannot bestow a legacy on 
another? 

The gradual revelation of the facts of the case was a sweet 
morsel to M'Sweeny, especially that part where I was within a 
few inches of the real robber without ever suspecting it; and 
to this day, when I have been puzzled, he will give me a dig in 
the ribs, and say suggestively — 

" Och, Jamie, avick — why didn't ye look on the top of the 
glass case?" 



1 68 AILEEN O'REILLY'S TASK. 



AILEEN O'REILLY'S TASK. 

Little Aileen had slipped into the " reception room " with- 
out any one noticing her in the general bustle, and, sitting 
down while we were noting the particulars of other cases, leant 
her head on the wall and in sheer exhaustion fell sound asleep. 
When the room was at last cleared of the noisy crowd, I noticed 
the solitary, sleeping child, and approached her in curiosity. 
She was not pretty — her face was too pinched and bloodless 
for that — and her clothes were the scantiest and poorest that 
would hold together without degenerating into actual rags. 
Her feet were bare, and here and there encrusted with blood, 
which had oosed from cuts made by the cruel stones on the 
weary roads over which she had passed. The child was cer- 
tainly not above nine years, and thin as a shadow. A scrap of 
a shawl covered her shoulders, and under one of the corners of 
this her right hand, even in her sleep, was clenched firmly on 
something concealed under the breast of her frock. The big 
toe of the right foot had been bound up with a bit of cotton; 
but this had dropped off in her sleep, showing that the skin in 
front of the toe, by some unwary step, had been knocked off, 
and had bled freely. 

We gathered round the strange little waif in hushed silence, 
no one feeling inclined to break that heavy slumber, and each 
silently speculating on the cause of her presence. 

The little face was haggard with care, and there were deep 
lines in it which are happily rare with those four times her age. 

At length, in curiosity, I raised the corneiof the shawl cover- 
ing her right hand, and, noticing the clenched grip on the 
bosom of her dress, pressed the spot lightly with the point of 
my finger. There was a slight crackle in response, and I was 
about to say that her jealously guarded treasure seemed to be 
a letter, when the child started and woke, revealing a pair of 
great lustrous blue eyes, which quite altered the character of 
her whole face. 

At first she seemed slightly scared by the surrounding faces, 



AILEEN O'REILLY'S TASK. 169 

but as she started to her feet and curtseyed low, her eye fell 
upon me, when she brightened and said — ■ 

" Plase, sur, I'm Aileen O'Reilly, and I've come to see you 
to get my father out of jail." 

She smiled so sweetly that it was evident she expected that 
I knew all about her, which was far from being the case. I 
nodded in a friendly way to put her at her ease, and then said 
quietly — -"Did I see you before, Aileen?" 

"I don't know, sur, but I saw you when my father was tried, 
and you said you thought he was innocent. Don't you 
remember it, sur? His name is Tim O'Reilly." 

I did not remember it, but the name did seem a little 
familiar. 

" And they put him in jail, did they? What was it for? " 
I inquiringly pursued. 

"They said he stole a can of oil, and bate and hurt the 
watchman out at the works; but it was all a lie, sur — he never 
done it!" cried the slender child with extraordinary vehemence 
and excitement. 

I started, and remembered the case distinctly then. The 
robbery had been a common-place affair out at an oil-work 
near West Calder; but it was a simple incident in connection 
with the capture and arrest of the prisoner, O'Reilly, that had 
roused my interest, and called from me some such remark as 
the girl now repeated. The robbery had been committed at 
night after the closing of the works, and when all was pitch 
dark in the yard where the thief was surprised. The watch- 
man, in going his rounds, had caught sight of a moving figure in 
one of the yards near the high outer wall; saw the figure throw 
something like a large can over the wall; and then rushed on 
it, and closed with the intruder. The man had his face 
covered with a red cotton handkerchief, having holes for the 
eyes; but the watchman was a sturdy fellow, and pitched into 
the thief with great vigour, till a treacherous kick in the 
abdomen laid him all but senseless on the ground, when the 
other climbed the wall and vanished with surprising swiftness. 
In the morning, when the man was relieved, he reported the 
circumstance, and then it was found that a can of the purest 
paraffin oil made— quite unlike the vile smelling stuff commonly 
used — had been stolen. There was no clue to the thief; but, 
on the watchman telling the story of the mauling he had given 
the thief, an inquiry was made as to absentees from the work. 

The only man missing was a labourer named Timothy 



f 70 AILEEN O 'REILL Y'S TASK. 

O'Reilly, and he, on being sought out, was found to be suffer- 
ing from some severe bruises about the head and a black eye, 
for which he himself professed to be unable to account. He 
had not fought or quarrelled with any one that he remembered 
of, though he admitted that he had been " taking a drop" the 
night before, but nothing like enough to obscure his faculties. 
He supposed he had got the injuries on the way home, and 
could say no more about them. 

The county police, however, on being called in, searched 
the brick cottage inhabited by O'Reilly, and found in the back 
room under a bed, and covered over with coals, the identical 
can of oil stolen from the works. Of course the evidence was 
conclusive, and O'Reilly was arrested there and then, when he 
at once roused himself and vehemently protested his innocence. 

He had been sitting at the roadside, he said, resting himself 
on the bank, when some one he thought came up and battered 
him, and he remembered no more till he found himself at 
home, with his wife binding up his head. All this was listened 
to in grave silence, and then the tearful wife realised that her 
husband was being taken from her, and passionatelyexclaimed — 

" Spake it out, true and strong, that ye never stole a hap'- 
orth in your life ! " 

" I never did, so help me God ! " solemnly answered 
O'Reilly. " Take me to Father Donovan, an' I'll say it over 
again. Take me to Father Donovan — sure he'll spake a good 
word for me." 

So piteous did he seem in his earnest excitement that the 
men waived a point, and led him in the direction of the house 
occupied by the Catholic priest of the district, at the door of 
which they were met by his reverence. 

"Father Donovan!" cried O'Reilly, with clasped hands, 
addressing the priest in a broken and grief-stricken voice, 
"give me a hold of the blessed cross for one minute till I clear 
my soul before God! They're taking me away as a thafe and 
a robber! — me, that swore to me old grandfather on his death- 
bed that I'd never disgrace him ! — me, that never robbed any 
man of a hap'orth ! — me, that wouldn't tell a lie for untold 
gold!" 

Quite a crowd had followed them to the spot; but there, on 
the open street, the moment the sacred emblem was produced 
by the concerned priest and placed in his hand, O'Reilly sank 
on his knees, placed the cross to his lips, and audibly swore 
his innocence before heaven. 



AILEEN O 'REILL Y'S TASK. 1 7 1 

It was this simple and affecting incident, as it was narrated 
when O'Reilly was brought into Edinburgh by the county men, 
which impressed me in his favour, and probably drew from me 
words to the effect that I believed him innocent, though I have 
no recollection of the fact. I had studied the Irish character 
somewhat closely — had seen it under many aspects — and I 
could not believe that a man, having O'Reilly's good name, 
would deliberately and foully perjure himself thus with the 
sacred emblem at his lips. Yet, but a minute or two after he 
had made the solemn oath, he drew from his pocket a red 
handkerchief, having two holes in it, exactly like that described 
by the watchman as having been used by the thief to mask his 
features. When it was examined by the police, O'Reilly loudly 
■protested that he had never seen it before — all the handker- 
chiefs he possessed being spotted or patterned, and this being 
pure red; but the protest went for nothing, and the handker- 
chief was retained as evidence. To the grief of his wife and 
little Aileen, who had accompanied him to Edinburgh, O'Reilly 
was locked up, and next day remitted to the High Court on a 
charge of robbery with violence. Before this took place, some 
inquiry had been made as to O'Reilly's movements during the 
evening of the robbery, and the result was that an interval of 
three hours between his leaving a public house and reaching 
his home remained unaccounted for. The watchman identified 
him as "like the thief," but could not say more. A rumour, 
however, got abroad that O'Reilly had been seen during that 
interval near the works, carrying something bulky in a sack 
over his shoulder, and this rumour was at last traced to a man 
named Hugh Higgins, who, however, when called upon, gave 
his evidence with manifest reluctance. He thought that the 
man he saw was O'Reilly, and that he saw him take a red 
handkerchief hastily from his face, but he had too great a re- 
spect for the prisoner to say so, or wish him any ill. This 
evasion would not do, and he was forced to attend as a witness ; 
the result being the conviction of O'Reilly, and the sharp 
sentence, for a first offence, of six months' imprisonment. 

That briefly was the case as I remembered it; and O'Reilly 
was still in prison serving his term. He had protested to the 
last at the bar that he was the victim either of a great mistake 
or a great wrong, but did not directly charge Higgins with 
perjury. 

"He never done it!" repeated the child. "An' please, sur, 
I've a letter here from his reverence, Father Donovan, to tell 



172 AILEEN O'REILLY'S TASK. 

you that he believes what I told him;" and with trembling 
eagerness she felt in her bosom and brought out a sealed 
envelope addressed to me, watching every line of my face with 
the most intense earnestness while I opened and read the 
enclosure. 

The letter contained little but what she had stated; merely 
re-affirming what the good priest had stated at the trial, a strong 
belief in O'Reilly's innocence, saying that the discovery made 
by the bearer, Aileen O'Reilly, seemed to point to the real 
criminal; and requesting me to take what steps I thought best 
in getting at the truth. 

"So you've made a discovery, have you, Aileen?" I said, 
as I finished. "The Father says that you've been trained to 
speak the truth. I suppose you wouldn't tell a lie even to set 
your father free? " 

" Indeed, sur, an' I wouldn't, for father would curse me for 
it as long as I lived," she answered, with tears creeping into 
her eyes. " Oh, sur ! I've hungered for my poor father ever 
since he was took, an' I've been praying all the time my 
mother has been ill that his name would be cleared. It's 
that has broke our hearts; it's not the prison, nor the starva- 
tion, nor suffering — it's my father's good name. Father 
Donovan has believed in us, and stuck by us, but all the rest 
look at us as thaves, and it's hard to live down that." 

"And what have you discovered?" I asked, feeling myself 
a little astray in her wild torrent of words. 

"I've found out the man that did it!" she exclaimed, with 
her skinny little hands clasped on her breast in ecstacy. " I 
lost my way one dark night in coming home from the fields 
where I'd been working for mother — far away where they didn't 
point at me. I wandered everywhere, mighty frightened, for 
'fraid I'd tumble down some ould pit, and at last I saw a light 
coming across the field from a shanty at the mouth of one of 
the pits. It's a pit that you just walk down into, so there's no 
engine-house at it — nothing but the little shanty where the men 
make up the powder cartridges that they take down to blast 
out the shale." 

In her impulsive eagerness Aileen went much too fast for 
my pencil, and I had to pull her up more than once during the 
narration. 

" Sure it was the blessed Virgin herself that showed me the 
light an' led me to the spot," she continued, with her heart 
fairly brimming over; "for when I got close to the place, and 



AILEEN O "REILL Y'S TASK. 1 73 



was going to knock and ax my way home, I heard the men 
speaking and laughing inside, and one was the bad man who 
swore my father into prison — Hugh Higgins." 

" Stop a bit," I interposed; " the men don't work at night in 
the shale pits, do they?" 

" No, sur — at least they weren't working. They'd been out 
snaring rabbits; but the rain came on, and they had gone into 
the shanty till it would go off." 

" Humph ! and you listened, I suppose? " 

" Yes, sur." 

" And what did you hear? " 

"I can't remember it all; but at last I heard Higgins say 
that he would p'r'aps pay off the man they were talking about 
the way he did Tim O'Reilly." 

"Well, what else?" 

" Nothing else, sur; that was all he said. The other axed 
how it was done and what he meant, but Higgins wouldn't 
tell." 

"And then you came away?" 

" I was so frightened and joyful all in a breath that I didn't 
know what I was doing, and I slipped my foot on the wet 
ground an' banged me head on the door I was leaning on. 
Then I heard the two men jump up an' fly at the door to see 
who was listening, and I ran off like lightning. I never thought 
I could go so quick, an' my belief is I was carried. The men 
ran after me a long way, swearing horrible, and telling me to 
stop or they'd shoot me, but I don't think they had guns, for 
I got clean away. I mind of getting home, all ragged an' torn 
with the hedges and what not, but then I fell asleep, and when 
I woke mother said I'd been ill. Then I minded of what I'd 
heard in the shanty, and told her and his reverence, and then 
he gave me the letter to bring to you." 

It was quite evident that Aileen believed that the letter 
would do the whole business, and that I would forthwith rise 
and give an order to some one who would place her father 
before her, free to depart with her in joy and triumph. I 
looked across at her bright face in some pity, and not sure how 
best to break to her my disappointment at the unsatisfactory 
nature of her statements. 

" Are you quite sure, Aileen, that you did not dream all that 
about Higgins while you were ill ? " I said at last. 

" That's just what Father Donovan axed, and I said ' No.' 
It was the fright of the men chasing me, and swearing what 



174 AILEEN O'REILLY'S TASK. 

they would do to me if I didn't stop that made me ill. Oh no, 
sur, I didn't drame it, though I've dream't often since that my 
father came to me an' put his arms about me neck and kissed 
me for setting him free. Sure, it makes me eyes wather to 
think of it; and many's the time I've woke crying wid thankful- 
ness, and wishing it wor only true;" and poor Aileen did a little 
crying for thankfulness there and then, leaving me more at a 
loss than ever. 

" And you walked all the way to Edinburgh to tell me this ? " 
I said, after a grave pause. 

"Sure that's a trifle when my father's at the end of the way," 
said Aileen brightly. " I walked a deal furder, for I didn't like 
any one to know where I was going, and I went off my road 
and was near Glasgow before a kind woman put me right. 
Mother couldn't come, she's so weak and ill, but she's praying 
for me at home — her an' little Morty, bless him for a wee dear ! 
— and sure a mighty big help it's been to me when the road 
was long." 

" And you look as if you needed all the help you could get," 
I remarked in sympathy, glancing from her pinched face down- 
wards to her cut feet and bruised toes. 

" Yes, but that'll be all over now," she said joyfully. "Many's 
the time since father was took we've gone days without a bite 
or a sup, and even Father Donovan didn't know of it. The 
paiple is against givin' my mother work for 'fraid she'd steal 
from them. Oh, but it's been a sore time for us — everything's 
gone 'most but the bed; and sure if cryin' would have filled 
our bellies, we'd never have wanted mate." 

While Aileen had been speaking I had been thinking; and 
the result of my thoughts, if she could have read them, would 
have sent down her hopes as low as they were high. The 
more I thought over the circumstances, the more was I inclined 
to believe the remark of Higgins overheard by Aileen to be a 
mere idje boast, without the slightest foundation in truth. 

" "Wl'y should Higgins have done your father such a deliberate 
wrong, Aileen?" I at length inquired. 

" Because father once had a quarrel with him and a deal of 
bitter words. Higgins didn't dare to say anything, for father 
could have had him put away from the work if he had told the 
foreman about it ; but he had kept it shut up in his mind and 
done that out of revenge." 

I began to think that Aileen was not to be so easily disposed 
of after all. 



AILEEN O'REILLY'S TASK. 175 

" What would you like me to do, then ? " I at last asked, 
hoping to find her hopelessly puzzled. 

" To put Higgins in jail, and let out my father," she very 
promptly answered. 

" Well, you know, that is not so easy as you think. You 
see, Aileen, we've no proof 'that Higgins committed the crime." 

"Didn't I hear him confess it?" cried the child, with eyes 
widely opened. 

"Yes, but you know you are an interested person." 

" What's that, sur ? " 

" It means that you would be glad to see your father set 
free." 

" Wouldn't I ? I'd lape as high as the house ! " cried Aileen 
with energy. " Sure, there's no sin in that, when it's me own 
father." 

" But, really, we must have better evidence than that," I said 
in desperation. " Where is that to be got? " 

"Oh, you'll ketch him, never jear," said Aileen, with un- 
bounded confidence " You're mighty good at them things. 
I heard a man say wunst that M'Govan could ketch any man 
he'd a mind to." 

" Just so," I said, showing some annoyance. " People 
think I can do everything, but I can't." 

Aileen would not believe that, and persisted so in me doing 
it at once that I found argument useless, and at last agreed to 
try if anything could be done. I questioned her closely on the 
habits of Higgins, the places he haunted, and certain unmis- 
takable features by which I might recognise him, the interval 
between the trial and that time having almost obliterated the 
features from my memory. Aileen was then taken care of till the 
evening, when she was taken down to the railway station and 
provided with a third-class ticket for the station nearest her 
home. She was told also that I was going thither in the same 
carriage, and was keeping a sharp look-out for me, as I could 
notice, up to the moment of the train starting. I was done up 
as a common, slouching labourer, and sat exactly opposite 
Aileen during the whole journey without being once suspected 
or recognised by the sharp-eyed child. On reaching our 
destination, as soon as the train was gone I followed her out 
of the station and touched her on the arm. Even then she 
did not know me, and was hard to convince even after she had 
heard my voice, and seen me edge up the wig I wore to get a 
fuller view of my face. When she did fairly realise my identity, 



1 76 AILEEN O 'REILL Y'S TASK. 

she seemed to look upon me with a species of awe, as if I had 
actually been two men in one. I told her to get home as 
quick as she could, and say nothing to any one — an advice 
which, fortunately for me, she did not fulfil, strictly to the letter. 

After parting with Aileen I sauntered slowly through the 
dingy little place, and finally dropped into one of the two 
public-houses. There was a full house of miners and labourers 
drinking in the different rooms, playing draughts and dominoes, 
swearing profusely, but otherwise conducting themselves in a 
tolerably orderly manner. I went to a particular room and 
called for some drink. In this place the occupants were divided 
into groups, and in one of these I chanced to hear some one 
addressed as " Higgy," and at once spotted my man and recog- 
nised him beyond doubt. Whether the man's conscience was 
not at ease, or he was merely eaten up with curiosity, I cannot 
say, but it seemed to me that shortly after my entrance he was 
regarding me with more than ordinary interest. I was not at 
all afraid of being recognised, as I had not appeared in the 
trial of O'Reilly at all; and I appeared to see nothing, and 
certainly never dreamt of being the first to open up a conver- 
sation. By-and-by he left his companions and asked if I was 
a stranger, when I had come, and if I was looking for a job, all 
of which I answered more or less frankly. A good deal of talk 
followed which I have forgotten, but in less than an hour we 
were "thick as dougs' heids," a result which had not been 
brought about without a good deal of liberal expenditure on 
my part. Higgirw; was to be my friend for life; was to take 
me out to the works on the morrow, and himself put in a word 
with the manager that I might be taken on; and was then, for 
a consideration, of course, to personally superintend my efforts 
in the new line. All this was to be paid for, and, that there might 
be no bad debts, Higgins said he would take the "loan" of five 
shillings then, which, after much haggling, I agreed to and 
paid. At length, in a burst of confidence, I got him to lower 
his head while I darkly whispered — 

" I don't mind telling you that it wasn't work alone that 
brought me here — I'm after another job entirely." 

Of course Higgins wished to belet into the secret, and of course 
I refused, though gradually I allowed him to wheedle me into a 
more pliant frame of mind. 

" Well, I'll tell ye ; but mind it's only between ourselves," 
I said, in an eager whisper, and with a cautious look round the 
room, as if in fear of being overheard. " I'm told there's a 



AILEEN O'REILLY'S TASK. 177 

man I knew staying here ; his name's Tim O'Reilly ; and 
between us two I'd j ust like to give that man what he deserves;" 
and a diabolical poke into Higgins' ribs and a coarse chuckle 
carried him off his feet. 

"Tim O'Reilly?" said Higgins, with a slight start, which 
I appeared not to notice. " Why, he's not here now." 

" Oh yes, he is ; his house is along the road a bit," I per- 
sisted with much energy; " and I'd give a sovereign this minute 
to be even with him. I owe him something which I'll pay, 
though it should be years yet." 

I appeared to be under the influence of great and suppressed 
excitement, which was actually in one sense the case; and 
Higgins, fairly carried away, extended his dirty paw across the 
table, and shook mine long and warmly. 

" I know what ye mane," he said at last, in a whisper even 
more cautious than my own, "and mebbes I might be able to 
help ye in that too. I know Tim O'Reilly well, for I had an 
'jld grudge agin him mysel. And. begor, I paid it off too." 

I was now fairly trembling with eager excitement, and was 
very near, in the indiscreet impulse of the moment, crying out, 
"How? how?" But caution won the victory, and I sulkily 
answered — 

" Well, well ; but that's got nothing to do with my case. Your 
grudge and mine are two different things, and paying off yours 
won't settle mine." 

" No, that's true ; but you can't get at O'Reilly just now, 
for he's in jail," said Higgins gloatingly. 

"There's no jail built that can keep me from him," I said 
with perfect truth, and much appearance of heat. 

"Whisht, man ; and I'll tell ye how he was put there," said 
Higgins, now perfectly off his guard. 

" I don't want to hear it — it's the man I want," I roughly 
answered ; but after I had ordered more drink, Higgins per- 
sisted in returning to the subject. 

" It was me that did it, man — me !" he said, with all the 
exultation of a hero, while I had difficulty in restraining myself 
from knocking him down. 

" I don't believe it — it's not possible," I rudely replied, and 
then he gave me the facts. 

" I was taking some oil out of the work to send to a friend 
that pays me well for it," he began, " when the watchman col- 
lared me, and gave me a bating. I got off, and was going along 
the road, when I sees O'Reilly sitting half drunk under a hedge, 
s. c. M 



178 AILEEN O'REILLY'S TASK. 

I was that mad at the sore bones I'd got that I set on him wid 
the stick I carried, and gave him a bat in the eye and a bating 
over the head afore he knew where he was. Then I was 
afeared that they'd chase me or search my house for the oil, 
and I got a woman I could trust to slip into O'Reilly's house 
with it under her shawl when there was nobody in but the little 
boy." 

"But how could that put him in jail?" I said, looking 
stupid. "They couldn't prove from that that he had stolen 
it." 

"No; but the queer thing was that they looked for a man 
who had got a bating, and fixed on O'Reilly, though I'd never 
thought on it when 1 was pitching into him. Then some one 
heard that I'd seen him near the works — which was almost 
true — and I was called as a witness against him." 

"And you swore away his liberty?" I said, fast losing com- 
mand of myself. 

" I didn't need, scarcely, for a hankerchief of mine was 
found in his pocket, which the watchman swore to." 

" And which you put there, no doubt ? " 

" No, I didn't; I lost it — I think I had dropped it when I was 
giving him a bat on the eye, and it's like as not he had picked 
it up and put it in his pocket." 

'• Then you're a thundering villain ! " I shouted, springing 
to my feet and throttling him, to the amazement of the other 
noisy groups in the room. Higgings was too astonished at 
first to resist or utter a word, and was borne backwards in my 
grasp ; but then a howl of rage rose from his friends, and they 
precipitated themselves upon me with a commotion that brought 
the whole houseful crowding in at the door. As the frantic 
crowd advanced, I managed to get one arm and hand free, and 
instantly whipped out my little silver-headed staff of authority, 
and cried imperatively — 

" In the Queen's name, help ! " 

A startled pause followed, and the men were hanging back 
in dismay, when one bully snouted — "Down with him; he's a 
peeler in disguise ! pitch into him !" 

They would have been on me in a moment, but at the same 
instant little shadowy Aileen O'Reilly sprang to the front, 
crying — 

" It's to clear my father's name ! It's M'Govan, the detec- 
tive, from Edinburgh, and that man he's holding is the real 
thafe of the oil ! " 



AILEEN O'REILLY'S TASK. 179 

Whether it was the ringing voice of the child falling so sud- 
denly on their ears, or the terror of the law, or the utterance 
of my own name that did it, I could never tell, but in an instant 
all the sympathy merged the other way. Two or three of them 
grasped and held Higgins till I got my bracelets on his wrists, 
and the rest sedulously assisting me and congratulating me 
upon my capture. My wig had fallen off during the struggle, 
and in my anxiety to recover it, I had failed to notice particu- 
larly the sudden change in Higgins' manner. His struggles 
had ceased like magic, and when he was handcuffed I found 
that he had so far lost his senses that the men had absolutely 
to hold him up in their arms. 

" He has turned awfully drunk all of a sudden," said one of 
the men to me, and drunk Higgins continued to be till I got 
him to the nearest police station, and had him locked him up 
for the night. 

Next morning, when I went to conduct him to Edinburgh, I 
understood the wily move more clearly when I found he pro. 
fessed to have forgotten all that had taken place the night be- 
fore, and particularly what he had spoken to me in the shape 
of a confession. 

It was clear to me that I had a wily fox to deal with, and 
one who would double, and turn, and wriggle to the very last. 
However, by questioning Aileen's little brother, I found beyond 
question that a woman had entered the house on the night of 
the robbery, and had gone for a moment into the back room. 
Mrs O'Reilly also recalled the fact that little Morty had at the 
time spoken of a woman coming in, but had been too con- 
cerned at the moment to pay much attention to the statement 
Little Morty, of course, was too young to be sworn, but he 
could nevertheless be heard in evidence; and, with Aileen 
and myself, we had such a good case that I was indifferent 
whether Higgins pleaded guilty or not. He seemed to realise 
the fact for himself, however, and caved in and pled guilty 
with a view to shortening his sentence, which was two years' 
imprisonment. 

As for O'Reilly, he was borne back in great triumph in a 
carriage, with the good Father Donovan sitting by his side with 
a face beaming with brightness and joy, and the whole village 
hurrahing in his wake. His name was cleared — that was all 
he cared for — and the past disgrace and imprisonment were all 
forgotten and effaced by that joyous thought. Aileen was half- 
mad with joy; and after "leaping as high as the house, and 



i 80 AILEEN O 'RE ILL Y 'S TASK. 

near crying her eyes out with joy," she sent me as a present — 
what do you think ? — a bunch of gowans and buttercups, with a 
paper wrapped round the stems, on which was written in large 
text, " With Aileen's love and blessings," and four large 
crosses for kisses, and one scrawling one which I suspect came 
from the fingers of little Morty. No present ever pleased me 
more. 



NEEDLE NIP'S STRANGE RECORD. 181 



NEEDLE NIP'S STRANGE RECORD. 

There is such a strong tendency among men to covet, that 
I think it is almost a shame to exhibit very valuable jewels 
temptingly in a window. I am speaking now of civilised men, 
of course, who never steal, or intend to steal. We see a thing 
which we admire — perhaps a picture, or a house, or a carriage, 
or possibly only a bonnet or a dress — and straightway the Old 
Man crops up within us, and we dimly understand how covet- 
ousness had a whole commandment framed for itself. When 
we feel thus, how much more is the untutored savage of a 
criminal a prey to the instinctive longing. With him to see is 
to covet, and to covet is to plan how to possess; and if he fails, 
it is only because the owner has more cunning in guarding the 
treasure than he has in grasping it. 

There was shown in one of our jewellers' windows a necklace 
of diamonds which must have made hundreds of ladies and 
others break the Tenth Commandment with every breath they 
drew as they gazed upon its lustre. There was no price fixed 
to the trinket. It was simply marked " Second-hand — for 
Sale," and I suspect was not the actual property of the jeweller, 
but simply handed to him to sell on commission. The value, 
if I remember rightly, was not far short of a thousand pounds, 
many of the stones being as big as beans, and of great purity. 

It is probable that I should not have noticed the necklace 
particularly had it not been that one day I chanced to be pass- 
ing along on the opposite side of the street, and saw standing 
before the window one of my " bairns" in the person of Needle 
Nip — a wiry, little, snub-nosed fellow, who had so much humour 
in him that I had often wished him anything but the trouble- 
some pickpocket and scoundrel he was. Needle Nip was 
sharp and nimble in all his movements and tricks — hence his 
name; but he could neither read nor write — a circumstance 
which I had occasion to deeply regret before I had done with 
him. 

As he stood like one entranced before the window I made a 



1 82 NEEDLE NIP'S STRANGE RECORD. 

detour, and crossed the street to see what he was admiring, 
and spotted the necklace the moment I got to his side. 

"Beautiful, isn't it?" I remarked, touching his thin arm; 
"makes your mouth water, eh?" 

Nip looked up with a start, and recognised me with a familiar 
grin. 

" Oh, it'll do — it'll do," he cautiously returned. " They looks 
real any how — but you can never tell now-a-days, there's so 
many precious imitators and swindlers about. They are real, 
aren't they — them diamonds ? " 

This was to draw me out for his own advantage, but I at once 
took refuge behind my ignorance of Jewells generally, and 
gravely asked him if he was thinking of buying the trinket as a 
present to his wife. Nip gave me a look — sly and leering, yet 
reproachful — -and then a punch in the ribs, and then went away 
chuckling heartily at what he evidently took to be a great joke, 
I waited till he was out of sight, and then went in and told the 
jeweller to look well to his shutter and door fastenings, and see 
that his shop was well watched day and night, and also to be 
particularly careful that the diamond necklace then in the 
window was locked up in his safe every night. True, house- 
breaking was not Nip's special line, but I had the idea that 
his interest in the jewel was not so marked without a 
cause. 

Whether my chance meeting with Nip at the window scared 
him, or caused him to alter any plan he might have formed, 
cannot be known; but for weeks the necklace was shown in the 
window, and no attempt was made to break into the place. 
And when the grasping paw was put out to clutch the trinket, it 
was done in a way far removed from my thoughts or anticipa- 
tions. About a month after my chance meeting with Nip, a 
flashily dressed gentleman, with a cigar gracefully poised in his 
fingers, stopped at the cab stand nearest the jeweller's and 
languidly asked if the man could drive him to Mandal's, the 
jeweller's. Thinking he had got hold of a stranger and novice, 
the man obeyed with great alacrity, but was rather taken aback 
when the gentleman, after being landed at the jeweller's door 
with a grand flourish, that brought Mr Mandal himself out to 
receive him, slipped a coin into his hand with all the grace of 
a queen knighting a favourite, which proved to be his legal fare 
— sixpence. Disappointments are often more impressive than 
successes. The cabman fumed and cursed so much as he 
drove away that he had no difficulty in recalling the circum- 



NEEDLE NIP'S STRANGE RECORD. i8» 

stance when I questioned him afterwards, and he identified his 
fare at a glance. 

Meantime " Handsome Harry," as he was called, otherwise 
Henry Paget, swell mobsman, betting agent, and pretty 
scoundrel generally, had been obsequiously shown into the shop 
and accommodated with a seat by the jeweller. 

He was a stranger, a tourist visiting the city for the first time, 
and wished to take home with him a present for " Mrs Fitzher- 
bert, his wife." He had no idea what would be best, and was 
not particular as to the price, so that the present was something 
uncommon — something which could not be bought every day. 

Here was a customer after the jeweller's own heart, though 
at the mention of the words " stranger" and " hotel" he had a 
momentary dread of the usual thread-bare device of a sham 
order to be sent home and paid at the hotel, and then asked to 
be shown to the lady for a moment, and all ending in the usual 
howl of grief at the loss. But no such proposal was once 
hinted at; the gentleman would pay on the spot for whatever 
he bought, and plainly intimated that he would expect five per 
cent, of a reduction on that account. 

The energetic tradesman believes in doing things boldly. 
Here was a chance to do business with the diamond necklace; 
and though Handsome Harry had never once hinted at the 
trinket, it was brought from the window and displayed by the 
jeweller in every light and on every colour of velvet, with an 
elegance which produced a visible effect on the intending pur- 
chaser. Handsome Harry said it was a beautiful article, and 
would make a lovely present, and all but said that he would 
take it till the price was named, when he dropped it into the 
jeweller's hands as abruptly as if it had burned his white and 
taper fingers. 

"What! are you serious? Oh, hang it, you know, I'm not a 
millionaire — I could never think of giving so much for a mere 
bauble — no, no; I could not afford it; and if I could, I would 
think twice before I should waste so much. It would be as 
good as paying away forty pounds a-year. That's too much." 

Yet, though he thus protested against the price, and proved 
to his own satisfaction that no one should throw away such a 
sum upon a mere trinket, he continued to fondle it, and turn it 
up to the light occasionally as the jeweller brought forth less 
expensive articles for his inspection. At length he fixed upon 
a brooch, bracelet, and ear-rings in dull gold instead of the 
necklace, and then discovered, on examining his purse, that he 



1 84 NEEDLE NIP'S STRANGE RECORD. 

had not enough money with him to pay for them. That, how- 
ever, need not inconvenience either of them, for he had only 
to go to his hotel — which he named — for a fresh supply ; and 
if the jeweller would kindly put up the things for him, he 
would drop in in an hour or so to settle the account and 
receive the jewels. It is quite possible that he would have left 
the shop to go to the hotel, or elsewhere — an arrangement to 
which the jeweller had readily consented — had not Mr Mandal 
made a discovery almost simultaneous with that of his glib- 
tongued customer — namely, the loss of the diamond necklace. 
He had placed the jewel but a moment before in the hands of 
Handsome Harry, and he had certainly not received it back, 
but from Harry's hands it had vanished as by magic. 

Pale with apprehension, the jeweller glanced over the articles 
he had been displaying; saw that the necklace was gone, and 
said hurriedly — 

" I beg your pardon, but I don't see the necklace." 

"Possibly; you can look for it while I am gone," said the 
cool visitor, calmly lighting a fresh cigar and making for the 
door. " Don't forget to deduct the five per cent, from the 
account." 

"Stop! stop! This won't do, you know; the necklace is 
gone, and you had it last," cried the jeweller, now gettin 
desperate, and at the same moment touching a bell which 
brought an assistant from the back-shop; "I cannot allow you 
to leave the shop till I find it." 

Handsome Harry, who had half excited the distrust of the 
jeweller more than once during the interview, drew himself up 
with much indignation and apparent wrath, and loudly 
demanded to know if Mr Mandal thought he was a thief? He 
would even have left the shop by force, had not the jeweller 
<md his assistant thrown themselves bodily upon him and 
detained him by force, while an apprentice was despatched for 
a policeman. A policeman is said never to be had when he is 
wanted; but in a minute or two the boy returned with two — 
one of whom grinned out whenever he saw Handsome Harry, 
and said-*- 

"Oh, it's him! he's been reported to us, but this is the first 
attempt at business." 

The moment Mr Mandal learned that his customer was sus- 
pected to be not a gentleman but a professional thief, he 
demanded to have him stripped and searched there and then, 
but to this the policemen could not listen. 



b 



NEEDLE NIP'S STRANGE RECORD. 185 

" We must take him to the Office first" 

" But suppose he throws away the necklace on the way, who's 
to make up the loss to me?" cried Mandalj but to this the men 
had an effectual reply. 

" We'll be responsible for that — we've seen that little game 
before, and know how to prevent it," they smilingly replied; 
and there and then they brought out their handcuffs, and 
securely fastened each of his wrists to their own, unmoved by 
the fact that Harry deliberately turned out every one of his 
pockets to prove that the jewel was not in his possession. 
The sight of the policeman entering the shop, and the tantalis- 
ing delay while the peculiar case was being explained, had 
drawn to the spot a number of curious passers-by; and when 
the men appeared at the door with their prisoner, and accom- 
panied by the jeweller, who had to go with them to lodge the 
charge, quite a commotion ensued. Eager questions were 
thrown and sternly ignored, and the four men moved along 
the street followed by a crowd which increased rather than 
diminished as they advanced. 

Rather ashamed of the attention he was attracting close to 
the prison, Mr Mandal hung back and became part of the 
crowd, and while thus progressing was eagerly addressed by a 
thin, sharp-looking ruffian who had joined the crowd on the 
way — no other than Needle Nip. 

"What's up, mister, do you know?" said the nimble thief, 
with great apparent interest, indicating the police and prisoner 
with a dab of his dirty thumb. " What's he nabbed for?" 

"I don't know!" savagely answered the jeweller, trying to 
look unconscious, though his face was so crimson with excite- 
ment and glossy with perspiration that the dullest or most 
stupid could have spotted him at a glance as the injured man. 

"Well, well, ye needn't take a body's nose off," said Nip, 
with an injured look. " He don't look much put about, any- 
how, whatever he has done;" and this struck the jeweller as so 
sound and truthful that he thought no more of the vulgar 
inquirer, who was soon jostled from his side by stronger or 
more eager questioners. The coolness of Handsome Harry, 
indeed, had been the most remarkable feature in the case. 
He neither appeared flustered nor guilty when the police hand- 
cuffed him. He merely smiled drily, and said that his lawyer 
would settle with them for the indignity, and that he would 
rather enjoy the walk to the Police Station, seeing that he 
would be paid so handsomely for the trouble as soon as he 



i86 NEEDLE NIP'S STRANGE RECORD. 

brought the case to a court of law. All this struck the police- 
men as were bravado, and they were not for a moment thrown 
off their guard. From the time that the jeweller's shop was 
left till they stood safe within the "reception room" in the 
Central Office, they kept such a sharp eye on Handsome Harry 
that they were prepared to swear that it was absolutely impos- 
sible that he could have dropped the stolen necklace, or in any 
way conveyed it to another. In this watchfulness they were 
assisted by the jeweller himself, who declared that not only had 
the necklace not been dropped, but no one of the crowd had 
once been within ten yards of the prisoner, whose wrists, more- 
over, were firmly secured to those of the policeman. 

Inside the Office, I recognised Handsome Harry at a glance. 
I believed him to be an old convict, though I could not point 
to any previous conviction, and I had seen him so often dodging 
about the different race-courses that he had the effrontery, the 
moment he sighted me, to favour me with a familiar nod, and 
say — 

" How do you do, Mr M'Govan? These stupid idiots have 
actually mistaken me for a thief, and brought me here in spite 
of all my protests." 

"Ah, these things will happen," I dryly returned; and then, 
after taking down the particulars of the case, I ordered him to 
be stripped to the skin and searched — myself taking part in the 
work. 

It was, as I found, literally impossible that the man could 
have swallowed the necklace, and as impossible that he could 
have dropped it or passed it to another; therefore I fully 
expected to find it in his clothes, his boots, or his hat, or hair. 
But I -was disappointed. I found the necklace nowhere — it 
was gone, as wondrously and mysteriously as if the touch of 
his fingers had suddenly changed the diamonds and metal into 
invisible gases. The jeweller, who assisted diligently in the 
search, could hardly believe his own eyes, and dropped into a 
chair almost fainting when the painful truth was forced upon him. 

The necklace was gone, but how or whither not one of us 
could hazard even a guess. At the first stagger of disappoint- 
m.nt I thought it possible that Handsome Harry, during the 
sending for the police, had tossed the jewel into some corner 
in the shop when he feared matters were getting hot for him, 
and I went down to the shop to see; but again I was wrong, 
and, indeed, as will appear presently, I was as far from the 
real solution as it was possible to be. 



NEEDLE NIP'S STRANGE RECORD. 187 

Finding himself triumphant, as his unaffected gaiety and 
merciless chaffing might have told us he would be, Handsome 
Harry loftily demanded to be released at once, but that we 
could hardly allow. Then he pretended to be indignant, and 
spoke of writing to his lawyer, but was in no haste to ask for paper 
and pens. As he had spoken to the jeweller of a particular 
hotel, I thought I would have a catch at him there, and went 
to the place only to find that he actually had spent a night in 
the establishment, leaving behind him, however, nothing but 
the bill against him. This was an awkward confirmation for 
us, as it left us but little excuse for detaining him. All we 
could do now was to make sure that Handsome Harry had not 
swallowed the necklace, and finding that he had not, we were 
all but at the end of our tether. I questioned the jeweller 
closely as to whether he had not inadvertently or unconsciously 
slipped the jewel into his own pocket, but was met by a decided 
negative. 

" I saw the necklace in his hand one moment, and the next 
it was gone," he said. " It was the quickness with which it 
vanished right under my eyes that made me miss it. I looked 
down among the things before me, thinking he might have 
laid it down, and then I spoke out and collared him him." 

Thus disappointed on every hand, I was thrown back on my 
own resources, and gave the case a great deal of thought and 
study, and the longer I pondered the more decidedly I came 
to the conclusion that the whole robbery had been an ingeni- 
ously arranged " plant," in which more than one of my " bairns " 
had taken part. That there had been some clever dropping or 
palmingbetween the shop and the Police Chambers I was certain; 
my only difficulty was to discover who had been Harry's con- 
federate. Perhaps I ought to have thought of Needle Nip. It 
seems strange now that I did not ; but the fact is I had never 
known the two to be seen together. Harry was a new arrival, 
while Nip was an established pest, having a wife and a house, 
and filling up his time by shebeening when thieving was scarce 
or risky. 

I did not think of Nip, and simply began a series of ferretings 
to find out whom he had been seen consorting with immedi- 
ately before the robbery. Then I thought of Nip, for it was 
clear that they had been very much together in a secret way. 
Then on mentioning the fact to M'Sweeny, who had been in 
the High Street when the crowd passed up, he distinctly 
remembered noticing Nip among them. On discovering this 



188 NEEDLE NIP'S STRANGE RECORD. 

important clue, I began to dimly grope at the real secret of the 
mysterious robbery. 

" Was any one with him ?" I asked of my chum. " Or was 
he near Handsome Harry — near enough for any palming or 
dodging?" 

" Not a bit — he was talking to Mr Mandal — axing him 
something, I think ; but I didn't take particular notice. I just 
noticed his ugly head for a minit, and then it was swallowed 
up by the crowd." 

Down I went at once to Mr Mandal, described Nip, and 
asked him what the man had said to him. The result was a 
repetition of what I have already recorded ; but that was 
scarcely enough for me. 

"Are you sure he did not jostle ?" 

" He was never near the prisoner — neither he nor any one ; " 
interrupted the jeweller. 

"I don't mean that — are you sure he did not jostle youV 
I said, with a touch of impatience. 

" Me? — why? — how? — what good would that have done?" 
cried Mr Mandal in surprise. 

"None to you, certainly. Had you that coat on?" 

"Yes." 

" Pockets outside — no flaps to them — easily picked, and as 
easy to slip anything into them," I meditatively added, more 
to myself than him, as I examined the coat. " I believe I've 
got the clue at last." 

" And what is it, pray ? " 

" Well, I am not sure as yet, but I suspect that Handsome 
Harry slipped the necklace into your pocket, in which it re- 
mained till you were on the way to the Office with him, when 
it was removed by Needle Nip." 

" Well, I never ! Who would have though of such a 
scheme ? " 

" Nobody but Needle Nip. If that little wretch had only 
been educated, he has the brain for much better things. Hand- 
some Harry again can only look pretty, and swindle in a bare- 
faced way — he has no brain." 

"Then you will get the necklace back again? For good- 
ness' sake try your best to recover it." 

"I must try to get Nip in the first place. I may get the 
necklace too, but I wouldn't stake much on that." 

I fully expected that Nip would be already " far from the 
land where his forefathers slept," with the necklace in his 



NEEDLE NIP'S STRANGE RECORD. 189 



travelling-bag — probably across at Rotterdam, or some port 
abounding in gem dealers, with easy consciences, and ready 
means at their command for altering and utilising the precious 
stones. But I was agreeably disappointed to find him at 
home. 

" I want you to come up with me as far as the Office," I 
said, after declining a seat and some methylated spirits or aqua 
fortis, which he called whisky. 

" What's up ? Nothing wrong, eh?" he said, scenting danger 
wt once. 

" It's about that necklace business," I replied, getting one 
link of the handcuffs ready. 

" Well, I'm blowed ! I thought you would suspect me the 
minute I heard of it. But you're wrong. I'm not in that 
plant." 

" I didn't expect you to say you were," I smilingly returned. 
" It was well planned, too; but M 'Sweeny happened to see you 

while you were speaking to the jeweller, and" ; and to finish 

the sentence I imitated the picking of an outside pocket with 
my forefingers. 

Nip seemed thunderstruck for a moment, and stared at me 
so curiously that I at once guessed that he though Handsome 
Harry had made a clean breast of it. 

" M'Sweeny couldn't say he saw me pick anybody's pocket," 
he doggedly returned. " If he does, he's swearing a lie." 

" M'Sweeny didn't say so — I said it," I sharply answered, 
and then he prudently relapsed into silence. 

But though I had the house searched from end to end, and 
took him and his wife away for a week or two's free lodgings 
and board, I made nothing of him. I found no trace of the 
necklace; I got no evidence that he had picked Mr Mandal's 
pocket, or been connected with the robbery in any way, and 
we were forced at last with much reluctance to let him and his 
wife go. It is possible, but not very probable, that we might 
have got trace of the plunder after all, even if the most inex- 
orable detective in the world had not stepped in to pull up 
Needle Nip. As it was, the whole was as nearly being lost to 
everybody for all time as it is possible for anything to be. 

Not many days after his release Nip was taken ill, and his 
illness speedily proved to be the worst form of scarlet fever. 
He could not be moved, and all the police could do was to 
isolate him by clearing the rooms close by. No doubt the 
reader expects that Needle Nip, seeing his end approaching 



r 9 o NEEDLE NIP'S STRANGE RECORD. 

repented in the piteous manner so common in tracts, and con- 
fessed all about the robbery, and where the necklace was to be 
found. Nothing of the kind. He certainly in his sensible 
moments asked to see his wife, but as he was delirious before 
she appeared, she, guessing the object, entreated to be sent for 
the moment he was able to speak to her. She would have 
been sent for, but Nip died the same night, giving no sign; and 
from sundry exclamations of his wife, I suspected that the 
secret had died with him. Had he been able to write, I have 
no doubt the case would have been different. As it was he 
was buried, and as a matter of precaution his clothes, as well 
as the bed whereon he had lain, were ordered to be destroyed. 
They appeared to be burned; but it chanced that Nip's wife 
had set her heart on retaining a waistcoat of flowered silk, of 
which her husband had always been particularly vain. This 
she managed to smuggle from the pile, and gave it as a present 
to her father, an old pest of a reset. Was the gift a lucky or an 
unlucky one for the world ? The old villain took ill next day 
and was hurried to the Infirmary, where he died, his last 

sensible words being, "If it hadn't been for that waistcoat 

of Needle Nip's I might have been as right as the mail this 
minute." The waistcoat now met its proper fate and was 
destroyed, but the person employed to do so found in one of 
the pockets a pencil stump, and a bit of crumpled paper bear- 
ing the rough and enigmatical sketch below : — 




NEEDLE NIP'S STRANGE RECORD. 191 

As the above curious paper was placed in my hands with 
something like its history, I soon came to the conclusion, that 
as it had been drawn out during Needle Nip's last illness, it 
was a kind of holograph last will and testament, and doubly 
curious as having been executed by a man who could not write 
a single letter of the alphabet. Nip, like all professional 
criminals, had little or nothing to bequeath, but he carried in 
his head an important secret — the sole knowledge of the hiding 
place of a valuable diamond necklace. He could easily have 
revealed the knowledge to us, but that would have been betray- 
ing his companion and possibly implicating his wife. Indeed, 
I may say, he was directly asked to do so, but refused in 
language which need not be particularised. What he had 
wanted in his last sensible moments was to convey the secret, 
by dark signs and symbols, to his friends, which should be quite 
unintelligible to us, should the paper fall into our hands. In 
this he erred, if possible, on the side of caution; for when I 
appealed to those very individuals for a translation, they truth- 
fully declared that they did not know what the thing meant. 
To a certain extent, I thought, I could read the symbols myself, 
but beyond that point, even with the aid of the prisoner Hand- 
some Harry, I could not go. Harry had been dreadfully 
depressed when told of the death of Nip — not at losing a 
companion in crime, but at the secret of the hiding-place 
perishing with him, and in the momentary confusion had half 
admitted that my solution as to the mode of the robbery was 
the true one. But he could not help me to a proper reading 
of the record. He was a comparative stranger in Edinburgh, 
and knew little of its favourite hiding-places; and Nip's wife, 
when appealed to, bitterly complained that Nip had never 
made a confidant of her — that he " told her nothing," probably 
being warned by experience that that was the only .safe course. 

I turned then to the will, or map, or record itself, and spent 
so much time over it — sometimes rising in the middle of the 
night to re-examine it — that my wife more than once threat- 
ened to burn it, but didn't. At first I thought that the long 
thing at the top was meant for an eel, but noting the general 
roughness of the drawing, I at length concluded that it was 
meant for a needle, and therefore to represent Needle Nip him- 
self. The coffin and cross-bones immediately below told 
their own tale, and the literal reading was, "Needle Nip is dead" 
— or, " if Needle Nip dies, this is his last direction or will and 
testament." The castle close to the coffin seemed to me to 



1 92 NEEDLE NIP'S STRANGE RECORD. 

give a locality, but this was the most misleading item in the 
record, and caused me more than once to heap not exactly 
blessings on Nip's memory. Further down was a thing quite 
intelligible — a rude representation of the stolen necklace, with 
a diamond mark, signifying "Bone — good — something to be 
had here" within. Next to it was the old beggar's, or Romany 
mark, signifying " Stop here," with ten marks ending in a dot 
and a leg; and another beggar's symbol meaning, "Go in this 
direction." The spread fingers of the two hands were merely 
a repetition or emphasising of the number ten already given 
by the ten strokes or lines; and the leg appended plainly 
indicated that you were to go ten paces in that direction, and 
then stop and find something good — the paces to begin at the 
dot close to the arch or bridge, which would probably be a stone 
or a stump. Thus far the translations seemed tolerably easy 
to me, but the three arches or bridges, and the three guns of differ- 
ent sizes, each with a bullet in front of its muzzle, were as inscrut- 
able as Sphynxes. At first, ignoring the general correctness of 
the details, I set them down as railway arches or bridges, over- 
looking the fact that they were round on the top, and not flat, 
and jumping to a swift conclusion, from the castle being above, 
decided that they represented those in West Princes Street 
Gardens. I had many a hunt in that direction, all in vain; I 
even had the earth turned up ten paces from each of the 
arches and bridges, but without success; and then it struck 
me that I was viewing the castle from the wrong side, as Nip's 
beautifully executed drawing seemed to have been meant for 
the side facing south instead of north, as I had at first imagined. 
The only arch at that side that I could think of was that 
spanning the low road leading round the back of the Castle 
from the Grassmarket; and I soon proved that it was not that 
which was meant. 

Up to this point in the investigation I had been powerless 
to explain the meaning of the guns represented in the picture; 
and though I showed them to some dozens of not very stupid 
experts, they were unable to help me. The first break of dawn 
on the point came to me suddenly one day while seated at 
dinner, with the record before me, when I started and said to 
my wife — 

" Why, I've seen three arches like these somewhere about 
Edinburgh — low arches just like these — where was it? Don't 
you remember ?" 

She could not, and the matter had to rest thus for some 



NEEDLE MP'S STRANGE RECORD. 193 

days, till I happened to be glancing over the newspaper one 
morning, and my eyes caught the words, "Volunteer shot in 
Hunter's Bog." Then I remembered where the arches — or 
at least arches like those in the drawing — stood. In the 
draining of the valley known as Hunter's Bog the water was 
utilised by the erection of rude wells, faced by arches much 
like those in Nip's drawing. The wells were often dry, but 
when filled were often used by those who bleached their clothes 
on the adjoining sunny slopes. A look at the drawing now 
convinced me that the guns of different length represented the 
short and long shooting-ranges occupying the centre of the 
valley. Without any delay I had the valley explored by night, 
and going to the arch or well furthest up the valley found a big 
stone close to its northern side. I measured off ten paces from 
the spot, walking as near as I could guess in the direction of the 
castle, and after half-an-hour's search, simply induced by my 
legs being longer than those of Nip, we found a tin box, and 
in the box the diamond necklace. 

Handsome Harry got seven years for his share in the work. 
I was always a little vain of my share in the case, but I, got 
less praise for it than for many which have cost me infinitely 
less labour. 



s»C 



r 9 4 A SPIDER'S WEB. 



A SPIDER'S WEB. 

Peggy Ross, a rather plain-looking milk girl, aged on!) 
eleven, was trudging her afternoon round at the Grange, with 
bright flowers and fresh green foliage bursting forth on every 
side under the magic breath of the young summer, and her 
own heart inclined to follow their example. Peggy, like the 
trees and flowers, had had a hard winter of it, and might well 
rejoice and be ecstatic over troubles vanquished, toil success- 
fully accomplished. In her right hand Peggy carried a large 
milk can, with a whole family of little cans strung round it with 
hooks, and in an emblematic way the large milk can repre- 
sented little Peggy. She had a whole family of little milk cans, 
so to speak, fastened to her by hooks, and all requiring to 
be filled. Peggy, in fact, though so young, was a little mother, 
the largest of her family being her grandfather, the next 
her brother Bob, aged twelve, and the next her sister Jessie, 
aged nine. " Why, that's only three altogether, or four,' if you 
count Peggy," some one exclaims ; " no very large family that." 
True, when you have a large income with which to keep it. 
Peggy hadn't that, so the family was large. 

"And boys eat such a deal," Peggy would reflectively 
observe, when discussing the point. " Bob gets half-a-crown 
a-week for running messages, but the running and the fresh 
air, I think, only give him an appetite. He'd eat a whole half- 
crown's worth in half-a-week if I didn't watch and manage. 
Jessie and me don't eat much, because we're only girls, and 
grandfather as good as lives on air; but boys must be fed, I've 
heard, or they're apt to die. Oh, I couldn't live without Bob, 
so I'd rather starve myself to a skeleton, and pinch and save, 
than have him hungry. And the best of it is, he never bothers 
his head where it comes from. If he knew the thinking I have 
to get it, I don't believe he'd half enjoy it." 

"But I've got through the winter after all," said Peggy, 
bravely, to herself, as she trudged through the rows of hand-' 
some villas, and through their sweet-smelling garden-plots 



A SPIDER'S WEB. 195 

which seemed to have been laid out expressly for her to enjoy 
and admire. '' I've always gone out with my milk in the 
mornings, gone to school in the day, and done my milk round 
and errands at night, and kept them all right and straight. 
I'm not in debt either, though I've a hard job to manage it, 
and all I need now is a pair of boots for Bob. I wonder why 
they charge so much for boys' boots. If it was only for me, 
now, anything would do, but a boy mustn't get his feet wet, 
and they need to be strong and good. But then money is so 
scarce." 

Peggy was advancing to one of the many houses she served, 
and, it might be added, one of the many houses in which she 
was a great favourite, when her attention was diverted from her- 
self and her concerns by the approach of a genteel-looking 
woman, dressed in widow's mournings, who hailed her with the 
Words — 

" Aren't you Peggy, the milk girl ? " 

" Yes, ma'am ;" and Peggy put down her can to curtsey, the 
woman before her having an engaging and attractive manner, 
which had deceived more experienced heads than Peggy's. It 
struck Peggy that she had more than once of late noticed the 
strange woman in going her rounds; and though pretty sure 
that she was not a lady, thought it just possible that she might 
be looking for some one whom none but Peggy was likely to 
know. The woman was a clever and accomplished thief, 
named Bell Murray; but Peggy had no knowledge of thieves, 
and as Bell could put on an artless appearance as a genteel 
beggar, which had deceived even ministers and magistrates 
when she favoured them with a call, it was not likely that she 
would be less successful with a simple milk girl. 

" You serve Mrs Naismith with milk, I believe ? " sweetly 
continued the strange woman. "That is, at Hill View Villa?" 

" Oh, yes, ma'am ; and Mrs Naismith is very kind to me, 
and the servants too. I got this dress from her;" and Peggy 
reddened a little as she indicated the frock, which she had made 
down for herself in a style which would have sent a skilled dress- 
maker into hysterics. 

"Yes, Mrs Naismith is a dear, kind lady," said Bell Murray, 
with affected rapture; "but do you know the servant?" 

"Which one?" 

Peggy asked the question simply, and it appeared for a 
moment to stagger her questioner, who, however, vaguely an- 
swered^ 



196 A SPIDER'S WEB. 



" Oh, the one that takes in the milk from you." 

"That's Maggie Gray," said Peggy, with brightening aspect. 
" Oh, I'm awfully fond of her, for she often gives me a piece 
with meat between it, enough to do all our dinners." 

Peggy's enthusiasm appeared to be catching, for the woman 
in widow's mournings hastily took out a white pocket hand- 
kerchief and wiped diligently at her eyes, as if quite overcome 
with emotion. 

" Yes, yes, she's a good girl — a good girl," she said, in 
broken tones; "and letting you into a secret — but you will 
not tell any one ? not even Maggie herself? If I give you half- 
a-crown to yourself, will you keep the secret?" 

Half-a-crown ! the word almost took Peggy's breath away, 
and her senses along with it; but she hastened to observe — 

"Oh, yes, ma'am, I can keep your secret for nothing." 

"No, no; that would never do," firmly insisted Bell Murray, 
producing a half-crown and generously pressing it into Peggy's 
hand. " I must pay you, and, besides, I wish you to help me 
to see and speak to my daughter without any one else in the 
house knowing anything about it." 

"Your daughter, ma'am? — is Maggie your daughter?" cried 
Peggy in surprise, scanning Bell Murray's face in vain for traces 
of a resemblance. 

" Yes, dear, I am Mrs Gray, and Maggie is my daughter," 
coolly returned the impostor; "but I have been unfortunate, 
and Mrs Naismith has forbidden me to come near the house 
to speak to Maggie. Just now Mrs Naismith and the family 
are away from home, but if any of the other servants saw me 
they would tell, and Maggie would be discharged." 

" Then, would you like me to tell Maggie you're here, and 
come out and speak to you ?" quickly inquired Peggy. 

" Yes, that would do, I daresay," dubiously answered the 
thief. " Or I can tell you what would be better. You know 
the scullery at the end of the house, close to the kitchen?" 

"Oh, yes; I know it well; I've often been in it," eagerly 
answered Peggy. 

" And Maggie often goes into it when none of the others 
are near," observed Bell Murray, with wonderful acuteness. 
" There's a window to it close to the garden walk, at the back, 
so that if that window wasn't barred on the inside I could go 
round and throw up the window whenever I saw Maggie come 
into the scullery." 

" But the window is barred, and the bar is never out of it s ' 



A SPIDER'S WEB. 197 

said Peggy. " I've seen it often, and I think it's because it's 
the only window that hasn't a shutter inside to close at night 
to keep thieves out." 

" But p'r'aps you could slip the bolt back without any one 
seeing you ? " artlessly suggested Bell Murray. " It would be 
such a joyful surprise to Maggie to see me there where she 
least expected me." 

"Yes, I could do that," hesitatingly answered Peggy; "that 
is, if you're quite sure Maggie would not be angry with me 
after." 

" Angry with you ! She would bless you for it," was the 
enthusiastic rejoinder of the cunning thieves' tout. " She would 
lay down her life to see her mother, only she daren't offend her 
mistress." 

" And may I not give Maggie the least hint of who's coming 
to speak to her at the window ? " asked Peggy, who did not feel 
quite easy in having a hand in such mysterious doings, though 
a joyful thrill told her that the half-crown nestling in her palm 
would buy her brother a strong pair of second-hand beots the 
moment she could find time to buy them for him. 

" No, no ; the surprise will be the best," hurriedly returned 
Bell Murray. " And now, in case I should never see you again, 
good-bye." 

The ladylike figure in mournings was gone, and Peggy turned 
to resume her pitchers and her trudging up to the house 
alluded to as Hill View Villa. She being a privileged and 
regular visitant, did not pause to ring the kitchen bell, and wait 
till gate and door were opened to her, but pressing open the 
gate, walked straight in with merely a light tap at the door, 
before entering. When she stood within the kitchen she found 
it deserted, though the customary dish stood ready on the clean 
dresser for the milk. Peggy measured out the milk, and peeping 
into the scullery, found it also empty. Then the thought of the 
curious task allotted to her came swiftly to mind, and, with 
something like a guilty flush mounting her cheeks, she stole 
towards the window, and with some difficulty drew back the 
rusty fastening, destroying as she did so a spider's web which 
had held undisturbed possession of the spot for years. A sound 
of some one tripping lightly down stairs from above, and sing- 
ing blithely as they came, drew her hurriedly out of the place 
to the milk can and measures at the kitchen dresser, and 
brought the first twinge of conscience regarding the secret 
mission. 



198 A SPIDER'S WEB. 

" Surely," she said to herself, as Maggie Gray bustled into 
the kitchen and greeted her with a kind smile, " surely I am 
not doing something wrong — something which Mrs Naismith 
would quarrel me for if she found it out ? " 

"Oh, Peggy, is that you?" said the servant unsuspiciously. 
" I heard you come in, but thought you were gone long 
ago." 

Peggy reddened furiously, though why she knew not, and 
the servant noted the circumstance, to recall it afterwards with 
interest. It was unusual for Peggy to blush so guiltily, and 
that fact, I suppose, caused the confusion to be remembered. 
As it was, Maggie thought she divined the cause of Peggy's 
loitering, and, calling her back, thrust a paper of broken meats 
into her hand, saying, with womanly tact, that Peggy could " eat 
it on the road ;" and then the two parted for the day. When 
near the end of her round, she was again accosted by Bell 
Murray, who appeared intensely grateful for Peggy's goodness 
in unfastening the window; and after enjoining her to keep the 
fact to herself, disappeared in the direction of Hill View Villa, 
with the avowed intention of seeing " her daughter Maggie." 

As a matter of fact, no one called upon Maggie Gray that 
day ; but in the middle of the night she was awakened by the 
sound of tome one — a man, she thought— walking through the 
room next to that in which she slept. Maggie was not lacking 
in courage, and though all the other servants slept in the attics, 
she at once slipped out of bed and crept to the door of the 
room to listen. Through the keyhole she caught sight of a 
flash of light, and among a string of whispered imprecations 
heard the words, "Bell was right — here's something worth lift- 
ing at last." 

" There's robbers in the house," was Maggie's horrified 
exclamation as she staggered back, half fainting with fear. 
" How could they have got in, when I closed and barred every 
shutter and door myself?" 

Maggie could have screamed, and so alarmed and roused the 
other servants ; but her first thought was to get out of the house 
unseen, give the alarm to a policeman, and have the thieves 
trapped. With this intention she slipped on her things, and 
waited breathlessly till the men moved to the front of the 
house, as she thought, when she opened the door, and glided 
out into the lobby, where she was instantly felled like an 
ox. She had fallen with one cruel blow, which had been 
delivered full on the temple with some blunt instrument, pro- 



A SPIDERS WEB. 199 

bably a "neddy;" and, I was inclined to think, had been heard 
moving, and deliberately waited for by the housebreakers. 

The thieves had made a clean sweep of everything valuable 
in the house, including some silver plate, a gold watch worth 
forty guineas, and notably a silver-plated dessert spoon, which 
had been given as a present to one of the children, and bore 
the initial of his Christian name, the letter P., on the handle. 
Poor Maggie was found in an insensible state on the floor by 
the other servants ; and then word was sent to the Central 
Office, as well as by telegraph to the master of the house. The 
message brought to the Office was to the effect that entrance 
had been gained by picking the lock ; and unfastening in some 
way the bolts of the front door, because that was the only door 
in the house found open ; but upon my arrival I clearly proved 
the thing impossible. The heavy bars on the door had each 
a patent fastening which could be loosened from the inside only. 
A close search and keen examination of the other doors and 
windows revealed the astounding fact that not a hinge or hasp 
had been forced or a window pane broken, and I was beginning 
to doubt the correctness of my own decision regarding the front 
door till I was shown the scullery window. Here, it is true, 
the window was fastened by a strong bolt, which they assured 
me was never drawn, and had not been touched for years ; but 
a second glance showed me that it had been all but covered by 
a spider's web, which had undoubtedly been recently torn and 
mangled by the drawing of the bolt. 

" Some one has opened this bolt lately from within," I said 
decidedly ; and as no servant but Maggie had entered the 
scullery for some days, the question was finally referred to her. 
She was still in bed, but quite able to speak and think ; and 
her first answer was a decided negative. 

" No one ever opens that window, or could open it, but me," 
she said emphatically. " It has not been opened for years." 

" The bolt has been drawn lately, and the window opened 
too," I as firmly persisted ; " there are shreds of spiders' webs 
hanging at various places where they have been wrenched 
asunder in opening the window. Think again ; might not 
some one have slipped into the house while you were in 
another part of the building, merely to unfasten the bolt for 
after use ? " 

" No one could come in without me knowing, as there's a 
spring bell on the back door," was her reply ; " and, indeed, 
no one is ever allowed within the door, Mr Naismith is so 



zoo A SPIDER'S WEB. 

strict on these points — at least no one but Peggy, the milk 
girl." 

"Peggy, the milk girl?" I echoed with fresh interest; "and 
what kind of character does she bear ? Might she not have 
done it?" 

"You can ask her," answered Maggie, with a confident 
smile. 

"Ask her?" I repeated, with a derisive smile, "that is 
scarcely a good plan. People do not generally speak freely 
the words which are to send them to prison. But is she poor ? 
needy?" 

"Very poor, but honest, and hard-working as a grown 
woman. She's only a girl, but she has as much in her head as 
many twice her age." 

" So I begin to fear," was my rejoinder, spoken rather dryly; 
" I must have her address, and see if I can get any fresh light 
on the subject." 

Had the time been a little earlier in the season, when the 
family were at home, Peggy would have been there morning 
and evening, and might thus have heard of the robbery before 
me ; but as it was, she was necessarily in complete ignorance 
of what had occurred. I got as complete a list of the things 
carried off as the table-maid could furnish me with ; and then by 
calling at the dairy which employed Peggy, I procured her 
address — a rather dingy place in the Causewayside. The 
house was a single room on the ground floor, with only half a 
window above ground ; and it was only after hammering rather 
noisily at the door that I made myself heard; and then obeying 
the injunction to "come in," I opened the door and saw an 
old man kneeling before the empty grate with a blacklead 
brush in his hand, a huge towel fixed before him for an apron, 
and his face red with hard brushing at the little grate. 

"Come in, sir; never mind me; I'm only doing my house- 
work," he said, as I advanced in hesitation ; "Peggy learns me 
how to do it while she's out working for us. But I'm afraid 
I'll never be so good at it as Peggy. Do you think now that 
it's possible for a learner like me ever to be able to make that 
grate as good as a looking-glass ? " 

"That depends " I gravely began, when he quickly 

caught me up with the words — 

" Ah, that's it ! It depends on the learner. Now, I'm dread- 
ful slow. There, at washing now I'm nowhere. It's a fact, so 
you needn't look surprised. When it's a plain sheet or a pair 



A SPIDEX'S WE/:. 20 1 

of stockings, I'm not so bad; but when it comes to one of 
Bob's shirts, or one of my white ones, I'm a fearful sloven. 
It's the wristbands and odd corners where the dirt gathers that 
bother me. And Peggy has such an eye for finding them out 
when I've missed them. Still she says I'll learn through time. 
Peggy's always hopeful;" and he made another desperate 
brushing onslaught on the grate before him, till a faint reflec- 
tion of his crimson face and sweating brow began to show on 
the polished jambs. 

" I suppose Peggy is a good girl, as well as a hard-working 
one? " I inquiringly remarked, taking the seat he had proffered. 

" Good ? There's nobody in this world will ever find out 
how good she is," answered the old man with enthusiasm, and 
a determined look around, as if prepared to knock any one 
down who disputed the point. " Peggy's the mother of this 
family. Without Peggy we'd all go to wreck and ruin." 

I said nothing; and taking my silence as expressive of a 
doubt, the old man, after wiping the sweat from his brow with 
a hand that left a broad smear of blacklead in its place, button- 
holed me to argue the point. 

" Look here : a great lady wouldn't come here and beg and 
pray of us to let Peggy go and be her servant for life, if Peggy 
wasn't good above ordinar, would she ? Peggy isn't pretty— 
'spect your pretty folks ain't worth candy; good for nothing but 
to oil their hair, and pull on their gloves, and scent their 
hankies, and look languishing — but Peggy's got what many 
haven't, a pair of hands, quick and willin', that'll work with any 
woman's. I don't know your name nor anything about you, 
but I'll swear now you've come after Peggy ?" and the old man 
paused with a triumphant smile to await my answer. 

"Well, yes, that's true; I did come after Peggy," I reluc- 
tantly replied. 

" Sure of it ! I was sure of it ! " he answered, with a huge 
chuckle and slap at his leg. " But. mind, you don't get her. 
She don't go with you — no, not for the Queen on the throne. 
No; we've resolved that we may be poor and hungry, but 
we'll keep together and have a home all to ourselves, with 
Peggy as the mother. That makes all bright and happy. You 
notice how dull and dingy this room is? — know what that's 
with? It's because Peggy's out !" and he gave me a joyous 
dig in the ribs with the grate brush, which nearly took my 
breath away. 

"I am sorry that Peggy is out, as I particularly wanted to 



?62 A SPIDERS WEB. 



see her,'' I remarked, now nil but certain that I was on the 
wrong track. 

"Ah, everybody comes after Peggy," delightedly continued 
the old man. " It takes me all my spare time to answer the 
door and speak to them. Dear knows what I shall do when 
she grows to be a woman and has sweethearts coming after her. 
I'll need to hire a man to help me to answer the door;" and he 
again chuckled himself nearly black in the face at his joke. 
" Peggy gets everybody to like her somehow. For instance, 
she came in yesterday with a bright half-crown in her hand 
which a woman had given her merely for helping her to see 
her daughter, a servant in the Grange." 

" A half-crown !" I echoed, seeing that I was expected to 
look overpowered. 

" Yes, a whole half-crown; and, what's more, I'll show you 
the present she's got from the same woman to-day. She met 
her in the Grange, and the woman told Peggy that she might 
need her help soon at another house which she serves with milk, 
as the woman has a niece there whom she's anxious to speak with. 
Now look ! what do you think of that ? " and the old man held 
up to my eyes a brightly polished dessert spoon of electro-plate. 

I took the spoon in my hand with a strange start, and, 
examining the handle, found the letter P. there engraved. 

"Ah, you see; that's for Peggy," exclaimed the old man; 
" she had got it done last night, on purpose for Peggy." 

I took the list of articles stolen from Hill View Villa the 
night before from my pocket to make sure of every step, and 
was not surprised to find that the spoon in my hand was therein 
accurately described. For some moments I was too much 
agitated to speak, but when I did find my tongue, it was to 
say, as quickly as possible — 

" Do you know anything of the nature of the service 
rendered by Peggy to this unknown woman?" 

" No; that's a secret. Oh, Peggy would'nt tell that though 
she were chopped in pieces. But it's nothing bad, you may 
depend. Peggy has a head on her shoulders that would serve 
for me. I said to her last night when she spoke of it, ' Peggy, 
secrets are bad, I 'spect;' when she said, as bright as you like, 
holding up the half-crown, 'No, they're not, when they let me 
go and buy Bob a pair of boots to-morrow. I'm sure he needs 
them more than any of us !" 

"And she's gone to buy them now has she?" I quietly 
continued 



A SPIDER'S WEB. 203 

" Yes, and she won't be Jong of being back, and my work 
isn't half done!" cried the old man with a sudden start of 
recollection. "Such a row I'll get; but I'll put all the blame 
on you;" and he held out his hand as if about to put away the 
spoon he had shown me, and resume his work, when a strange 
commotion in the street without attracted us both. We saw a 
number of feet crowd past the window, and shortly after heard 
some heavy footsteps in the passage, followed by an imperative 
knock at the door. I opened the door, and was startled to 
find myself confronted by Peggy in tears, and in the grasp 
of a policeman. 

" They said the half-crown was a bad one ! " she hysterically 
exclaimed, as she sprang forward into the old man's arms, "and 
as I could not tell them how I got it — you know that's a secret 
— I brought them here for you to tell them I'm honest and 
good, and make them go away." 

" Yes, you're honest and good," tremblingly repeated the 
old man. " Peggy's honest and good. How dare you frighten 
her and make her cry ? " 

" Poh ! that sort of nonsense won't do with us," repeated 
the policeman, with a touch of the hat to me. " There's too 
many of these bits of pewter floating about just now, as Mr 
M'Govan there will tell you." 

" M'Govan ! M'Govan!" helplessly echoed the old man, 
tvith a powerful start and a reproachful glance in my face. 
"Are you M'Govan, the detective?" 

I simply bowed, for the tears in the old man's eyes had 
effectually stopped my voice. 

•' Then you heard what I said before I knew anything about 
this charge," he eagerly pursued; " what I said about Peggy? 
And it was all true — true as the Gospel. Peggy wouldn't do 
wrong to save her life." 

"I am sorry to say that something more than a mere asser- 
tion will be required to acquit her of a very serious charge," 1 
said in reply. " I have here in this spoon evidence to justify 
us in taking her away, even though the possession of the bad 
half-crown were satisfactorily explained." 

" Why, what — what does the spoon prove ? what has Peggy 
done?" 

" That is what I am anxious to find out, both for Peggy's 
sake and my own," I gently returned. " Last night, Mr 
Naismith's house in the Grange was broken into, or rather 
entered by thieves, who could have got in only by the scullery 



20 4 A SPIDERS WEB. 

window, the bolt of which must have been unfastened by an 
accomplice within;" and as I spoke and fixed the" pallid little 
girl with my eye, I saw her slowly and guiltily flush to a deep 
red. At the same time, an alarmed expression settled on her 
face, and she exclaimed in a terrified burst — 

" Oh, surely it wasn't Maggie Gray's mother?" 

" I think not. A mother would hardly fell her daughter, 
and leave her all but dead on the floor," I gravely answered. 

"And is Maggie hurt? oh, is Maggie hurt?" she cried iD 
fresh grief. "Oh, is it possible that I have done wrong?" 

" Come here, Peggy, and tell me all about it. and I will soon 
know if you have done wrong," I said, drawing her towards me. 
u It's for your own good I ask it, and to get at the real thieves." 

It took some close reasoning on my part to convince Peggy 
that she was justified in betraying the woman in widow's 
mournings; but when I expressed a conviction that the tout 
was no more a relation of Maggie Gray's than I was, the story 
came out clear and simple from beginning to end. When she 
had finished I brightened perceptibly; and the old man, hastily 
taking that as a good sign, said — " Now you understand it all, 
and see that Peggy had nothing to do with it, so you can go 
and catch the thieves, and leave Peggy here." 

" That would scarcely do," I gravely rejoined; " Peggy must 
go to the Police Office with me." 

A look of haggard despair crossed the old man's face like a 
flash. 

'• No, no ! that would never do. Peggy's the bread-winner; 
she mustn't be taken away. I'm the responsible person in this 
house; Peggy's only the mother, and of course must be con- 
sidered as acting under my influence. The grate is brushed 
and the house clean, and the washing can stand over for a 
week or two. Do, there's a dear, kind man ! do take me 
instead. I'll look something like a prisoner: but that poor 
child " 

" You will indeed, for I must take you too," I said, with 
some reluctance. 

'• You'd better take us all," cried the old man, with the sharp 
energy of despair. " Take Bob, too, when he comes to dinner, 
and Jessie when she comes from school, and Peg there, the 
cat, and Chirrup the canary. They're all equally guilty. Foi 
shame, man ! I've seen many hard-hearted monsters, but you 
beat them all." 

" It is not for me to argue that point, but simply to do my 



A SPIBEtfS WEB. 205 

work ; and if you think yourself aggrieved, consider how much 
more the servant, Maggie Gray, must think herself, for until it 
is proved that this unknown woman is not her mother, I must 
take and detain her too." 

" But she is innocent," burst in Peggy, in horror and dismay. 
" Oh, surely you can never take her to prison? " 

I replied that at present that was impossible, Maggie being 
scarcely well enough to be moved, but that at the same time I 
felt sure that the arrest would be made. 

I searched the house well — no difficult task — and then 
started with the policeman and our prisoners for the Central 
Office. I thought Peggy's story rather improbable, and had 
not hesitated to say so, a circumstance which appeared to cut 
her to the heart. We took the back way by Buccleuch Street, 
Potterrow, and Horse Wynd, to avoid commotion and attract- 
ing crowds, and I soon had occasion to think the arrangement 
a fortunate one. As we were crossing the Cowgate from Horse 
Wynd, Peggy suddenly started and exclaimed — 

" There ! there ! there's the woman that gave me the half- 
crown !" 

A woman in mournings moving on before us started right 
round at the sound of Peggy's voice, and no sooner sighted the 
policeman and me than she took to her heels. I got her at 
the top of the close, and hustled her into the Police Office, in 
which she was at once searched and asked for her address. 
The search revealed nothing but a few coppers and a common 
door key ; and to my surprise she at once named as her address 
a respectable lodging in Lothian Street, kept by a woman 
bearing the same name as herself. Upon inquiry at this place, 
I found that Bell spent much of her time in writing and answer- 
ing letters, which easily found her, owing to the name " Murray'' 
being on the door, and had a shrewd guess at her means of 
livelihood. I found, too, that at intervals " Mrs Murray " was 
visited by her "husband," and instantly began to devise a 
scheme for liming him as well. After some thinking, I inserted 
an advertisement in the Scotsman running thus : — - 

"Pound, a door key. The owner may have it by applying to Mr 
Roberts, grocer, No. — Cowgate." 

One or two written notices to the same effect I had inserted 
in shop windows in the locality, and at last one of these 
produced fruit. A man called for the key, but was told 
that it could not be given him till Roberts himself came 



2 or, A SPTDERS WEB. 

in. I was then warned, and got down in readiness, and 
saw him receive it. He went up the Cowgate for some dis- 
tance, plunged into a low entry and got through to a cellar in 
a yard behind, which he opened with the " lost " key, and then 
entered, closing the door behind him. When he again appeared 
he had a heavy parcel in his hand, which he hastily attempted 
to conceal under his coat the moment he sighted my familiar 
features. I advanced and fastened his wrist to my own, after 
handing the parcel to my chum, and then he spoke for the first 
time. 

" What do you want with me?" 

" Only to take you to your wife," I pointedly replied. (i In 
the poorhouse they separate them ; we are more merciful." 

He collapsed abjectly; and the secret of his dejection was 
revealed at the Office when the contents of the parcel and the 
other articles dug up in the cellar were displayed, consisting, as 
they did, of all the stolen property but the plated spoon taken 
from Peggy the milk girl, which I suppose they had thought 
not worth retaining. Peggy was detained a day or two, but 
then released on ample bail. 

Bell Murray proved less of a monster than I expected ; for 
when the case came to trial, she fully absolved Peggy of all 
complicity in the crime — so far as knowledge of evil was con- 
cerned. She wished to do the same in regard to her husband, 
but we could hardly take her evidence upon that point, and 
they went to the Penitentiary for ten years together. Peggy, I 
have no doubt, will be a real scrubbing and scouring mother 
by this time ; but whether she is or no, I have no doubt she is 
still what her grandfather said, " honest and good." 



AN UNBURIED BURGLAR. 207 



AN UNBURIED BURGLAR. 

The first time that I saw the pocket-knife of which I now 
w rite, and noted its peculiarities, was when we had its esteemed 
owner, Anthony Potter, otherwise " Colt)," up on suspicion, 
and I was relieving him of his unnecessary valuables before 
having him locked up. It bore no name; indeed, a professional 
thief has seldom any use for his real name, and hastens to get 
rid of it, and then religiously shuns it as long as he curses the 
world by existing. As for signing a will, of course, a thief 
needs no name for that, never having as much as a small 
'.oothcomb to bequeath to his sorrowing relatives. But though 
•' Colty's " knife bore no name, it had peculiarities enough to 
distinguish it from the many other knives coming into our 
keeping, otherwise I should not have had this story to tell. 
The blade was much worn by tobacco whittling, of which it 
smelt strongly — -so much so, that in taking it from Colty's 
pocket, I felt constrained to say — "You'll have no tobacco for 
a while, so you'll not need this," which politeness was rewarded 
with a most malignant scowl. 

One side of the buckhorn handle was nearly all gone, 
leaving but a scrap at the end, and nothing but the flat brass 
beneath, shiny and clear with friction, in his pocket. On this 
brass side some one — perhaps Colty himself, in an idle moment 
— had scratched the effigy of a man in the act of being hanged 
on a gibbet. I thought it had been designed to represent 
Colty's probable end, and may have said so to the owner, but 
if I did I was wrong. Colty was reserved for a more signal 
distinction, and one which few burglars can hope to attain. 

Little or nothing came of the arrest on suspicion, and in a 
few days Colty got back his knife, and coppers, and fag end of 
tobacco, and went forth once more to conquer and subdue. 

Things did not prosper with him for some time after, and he 
and a beloved pal named Joe Eggers, at length, with many 
curses, decided to cut all connection with Edinburgh, and 
remove to a better sphere for their abilities. The journey of 



2o8 AN UNBURIED BURGLAR. 



course was on foot ; and we might have been blessed by his 
prolonged absence had he and Eggers, otherwise " The Daisy," 
not chanced to pause behind a hedge some miles south of 
Edinburgh to lounge and sleep in the sun. While in this 
retreat two men passed, evidently speaking of a grim and 
stately-looking house near by, called Ellerton Hall. 

" The Major made all his money in India, and has as much 
gold and silver plate in that place as would stock the mint," 
said one. 

"And he's quite a character, isn't he? old and miserly, 
though he hasn't a wife or relative to leave it to," remarked 
the other. 

"Yes, and stingy as possible; keeps only women instead of 
men servants, though the place is worth better watching. 
He's got a dog, though; a great brute of a mastiff as big 

as 

The voices died away in the distance, and Colty, who had 
been awakened by the sound, heard no more. But what he 
had heard was enough to interest him deeply in Ellerton Hall 
and its contents. Leaving his companion wrapped in the calm 
and tranquil slumber of innocence behind the hedge, he made 
a tour round the house in question at a safe distance, and 
beincr satisfied that the subject was hopeful, returned and 
kicked his friend into wakefulness. The house in question, 
tenanted by Major Bartlemore, stood well back from the road, 
and nearly hidden by trees ; and though to the ordinary eye it 
might have seemed invulnerable as a fortress, the principal 
windows below being protected by iron bars, to the practised 
thief no such objection presented itself. There was a way into 
the house, and at the side farthest from the kennel of the mas- 
tiff which Colty had inspected with deep interest; and the 
intending burglar at once proceeded to lay the result of his 
investigations before The Daisy. Had Colty known all that 
was to come of that promising "plant," he and his companion 
would have passed on with a shudder of profound thankfulness, 
and left the plate to some other thief with more daring and 
hardihood ; or had he even known of one eccentricity of the 
Major, besides that of keeping a large mastiff, I question much 
if he would have ventured within the walls of the house, though 
he had been offered the Crown jewels as the prize. But 
burglars are but men, and the risks and dangers of their calling 
have never been sung by poet, or wept over by biographer, so 
it is not surprising that they saw not an inch before their noses, 



AN UNBURIED BURGLAR. 209 



and grasped at the chance with the eager avidity of gamblers 
or fortune hunters. 

After deciding to break into Ellerton Hall, Colty and The 
Daisy were compelled to return to Edinburgh. They had no 
tools, no friends, and no money wherewith to buy them ; but 
when did the want of money step between a man and his fate? 
Colty had set his heart on the Major's treasure, and realised 
his difficulties only to overcome them. From a reset in their 
power they borrowed canvas overalls to give them a workman- 
like appearance; and with these covering their shabby clothes, 
they boldly walked into a builder's yard and stole a sixty feet 
ladder. This ladder they carried between them out of the 
city to a plantation near Ellerton Hall, and then sat down 
beside it to wait for night. 

" I wonder what the old woman at the cottage yonder could 
mean by sayin' that the Major was a queer man, and kept 
some queer pets?" said The Daisy reflectively, as they waited 
thus after a tour of inquiry in different directions; il she sort 
0' laughed when she said it, too." 

'• Oh, I know — it'll be parrots or something. He's been in 
India, and would most likely bring 'em with him. Or maybe 
it's a monkey, or some sich beast. 'Course, if we see any we 
may lift them, if they're quiet. They'll bring a bob or two 
from some o' the show folk or caravans." 

" I think we'd better let them alone," quickly suggested The 
Daisy; "parrots bite awful, and so does monkeys, to say 
nothing of the noise. Let's stick to our own line, and lift just 
what'll go easy into the melting-pot." 

"Just like you; you have no enterprise," growled Colty; and 
the r e the subject dropped. 

Hy using their eyes and making many prying investigations, 
including one begging expedition to the kitchen door of the 
Hall, the intending burglars had learned pretty accurately the 
position of the various rooms, and the parts unoccupied by 
night. As soon as it was late enough and dark enough, which 
at that time was not till after midnight, they shouldered the 
ladder, got into the garden behind the house, carried it softly 
to the wall without arousing the watch-dog in front, raised it to 
a bedroom window, utterly ignoring the barred or shuttered 
windows below, and speedily entered the house. 

Unfortunately for the success of their attempt, many of the 
adjoining doors were locked or barred, and they were thus 
confined to a limited area of the house. But enough was got 
s. c. ° 



aio AN UNBURIED BURGLAR. 

to satisfy such needy and toolless robbers, including two Indian 
idols, representing squat figures about eighteen inches high, 
which being coated with silver, they thought a great prize, 
worth their weight in shillings. Fastening these and the other 
articles of value into a bed-cover, they were about to make 
them up into two compact bundles, when the watch-dog woke 
and began to howl and bark furiously. 

For a moment or two the burglars stood stock still, in hope 
that perfect silence would convince the animal that it had been 
mistaken; but finding then that the terrific uproar continued, 
and was likely to wake the inmates, Colty impatiently said — 

"Take that bed-cover and run down and throw it over the 
brute's head, and put your knife in its heart. It's the only 
plan ; and while your round there, I'll get the bundles down 
ready for lifting. Quick now, or we'll have to bolt without a. 
maik's worth." 

The Daisy vanished like a shadow from the open window, 
and after a little Colty was pleased to notice that the furious 
barking dwindled to a smothered growl, from which he rashly 
concluded that The Daisy was hard at work in front of the 
house. Now The Daisy, far from executing the command, 
had not got farther than the foot of the ladder directly below 
the window, a circumstance which requires some explanation. 
The moment The Daisy's feet touched the ground, he was 
startled to see one of the dark windows of the building suddenly 
show a light within, as if one of the inmates had been 
awakened, and had started out of bed to light a lamp and learn 
the cause. Uncertain for a moment what to do, The Daisy 
stood thus transfixed directly beneath the window from which 
he had descended, and waited to see if the light would go out, 
or the window be thrown up to give egress to a night-capped head; 
but a moment or two later a more dreadful object attracted his 
attention and made him stand on his guard, bed-cover in hand 
and knife in teeth. The mastiff, furious at being so long un- 
noticed, had made a successful tug at his chain, not sufficient 
to break the bond, but to move the heavy kennel a few inches 
from the spot. A second effort, though nearly strangling it 
with the tightened leather collar, moved the kennel a little 
further, and thus in a few moments it turned the corner of the 
house with flaming eyes and protruding tongue, dragging its 
wooden house after it, and evidently panting to gobble up the 
amiable Daisy alive. 

The great brute quickened its movements desperately the 



AN UNBURIED BURGLAR. 211 

moment it sighted the dark shadow against the wall, growling 
and gasping, but making no louder sound ; and in a short time 
it would have come to a fight or a flight, had not the uncon- 
scious Colty far above at that precise time been struck with a 
brilliant and speedy way in which to convey the bundle con- 
taining the heavy silver-plated idols to the ground. The ground 
immediately below the window, he had remembered, was a 
garden plot, soft and noiseless as a sponge, and he could not 
see any need for lugging down the ladder a bundle weighing 
one cwt, when he had his own to carry as well, and could 
simply drop the heavy one into this soft garden mould. He 
staggered to the window with the bundle ; and knowing from 
bitter experience that The Daisy was quite able to take care of 
himself, he rolled out the bundle on to the sill, jerked it well 
out from the wall, and thus sent it flying earthward, a clean 
drop of sixty feet. Everything in this world has its use ; and 
heathen idols, though but bronze, silver-plated, may have a 
good mission to accomplish. Colty listened for the fall of the 
plunder, and was rewarded by hearing a dull, crashing thud 
far below. Yet the sound was scarcely that which he had 
expected; and being followed by a deep groan, it so far excited 
his curiosity as to induce him to drop the second bundle on 
the floor, and peer out into the darkness. He saw enough to 
make him suspect that all was not right — the prostrate outline 
of a man on the ground close to the wall below, and a moving 
animal dragging a heavy object after it towards that figure ; and 
without a moment's delay Colty sprang to the ladder, and 
began rapidly to descend. Half way from the bottom he 
paused and stared down with a creeping sensation crossing his 
scalp, and a clammy perspiration beginning to ooze from his 
forehead and spine. Below the window lay his beloved pal 
The Daisy, with one of the corners of the bundle — that which 
contained the heaviest idol — resting on his hollowed skull, and 
the dark blood oozing from his nostrils and every other crevice 
by which it could find easy outlet. Within a yard of the felled 
man was a huge mastiff, fastened by a chain, but nevertheless 
creeping steadily nearer with its eyes on Colty, and its tongue 
and teeth evidently watering to devour him. 

" Good God ! what on earth could have made the stupid get 
in below when I dropped the bundle ? " exclaimed Colty, with a 
sickening alarm which made him reel dizzily on his perch. 
" I've gone and croaked him, by gum ! I see how it has 
happened. That brute of a dog has chased him back and 



212 AN UNBURIED BURG LAX. 

cornered him there while I was dropping it, and he hadn't 
time or the nouse to shout out. Blast you, if I don't take the 
worth on it out of your skin ! I'll have your heart's blood, you 
ugly fiend, for going and killing one o' the best prigs that ever 
stole crabshells to walk on ! " and thus vociferating under his 
breath, Colty got out his knife — that which I have already 
described — unclasped it with his teeth, and warily began to 
descend the ladder, up which the dog was now leaping and 
straining. " I'm a-coming, you blasted murderer, I'm a-coming 
to cut your throat ! " he hissed, as the dog began to bay and 
bark more furiously than before, and some windows rattling 
up close at hand warned him that he had little time to lose. 
"When I'm done with you, you won't be so precious greedy to 
come to grabbing distance." 

When within ten feet of the ground, Colty leaped suddenly 
outwards from the ladder and landed on his feet some distance 
behind the growling mastiff; then when it leaped round, he 
let it get the full length of its tether, and then hurling a great 
stone into its open jaws, rushed forward and stabbed it venge- 
fully in the side. The next moment, before he could wheel 
or leap back, with a frightful howl the dog had him by the 
shoulder, and he was forced to drop the knife, that he might 
have both hands to choke it off. At this juncture an alarm bell 
suddenly clanged out within, followed by the appearance of 
Major Bartlemore himself at one of the windows, with a double 
barrelled gun in his hand. There was a shout, a dead pause, 
and then an explosion, and Colty heard a ball whiz past his ears 
in a manner too emphatic to be mistaken. He wrenched his 
shoulder from the frightful teeth of the mastiff, and without 
thinking of his knife, or the plunder, or anything but saving 
life and liberty, Colty dashed for the nearest wall, ran up it like 
a goat, and was gone. 

During all the commotion and uproar, The Daisy had never 
once moved; but as soon as the servants had armed themselves, 
and thrown on clothing, they issued forth, headed by the Major, 
gun in hand, and picked up the prostrate thief, whom the old 
soldier at first joyfully took credit for shooting. A closer inspec- 
tion of his injuries, however, speedily proved that Daisy was 
suffering not from a bullet, but a fractured skull. The plated 
idol had descended with the force of a cannon-ball straight on 
to his hard head, which it had indented in a way which, had 
the man ^ved, would have puzzled many a phrenologist. The 
Daisy was still alive, but quite insensible; and though he wa. 



AN UN BURIED BURGLAR- 213 

as speedily as possible driven in to Edinburgh Infirmary in a 
cart littered with straw, at which place he lingered foi some 
weeks, it could not be said that he ever recovered his faculties. 
He let out enough in his wanderings to indicate that he had 
not attempted the robbery alone; and as the Major spoke of a 
second man escaping over the wall, and sent in the knife found 
near the spot — not The Daisy's, which was found in his teeth 
— I anxiously strove to recollect where and how I had before 
seen the knife. Think as I liked I could not recall the circum- 
stances, and had almost given up trying, when some one 
chanced to remark in the Office that Colty had never been seen 
since the robbery, when the whole scent flashed upon me like 
an inspiration, and I exclaimed — - 

" Why, that old knife is Colty's ! Strange that we did not 
think of him sooner, for he was seen with The Daisy long be- 
fore this affair came off." 

" Oh, but Colty has had nothing to do with this affair. I 
know for a fact that he left the city a day or two before the 
robbery took place," was the rather damping reply. '• Besides, 
Vie might have lost the knife or lent it, or had it stolen from 
him — nothing more likely. It does not follow, because his 
knife was found out there, that he carried it to the place, and 
left too hurriedly to pick it up." 

I said nothing, but determined to follow up the clue, in hope 
of, perhaps, strengthening the case as I proceeded, and was soon 
rewarded by hearing beyond doubt that Colty had been in the 
city, in hiding, and somewhat disabled, a day or two after the 
robbery. But this information did not place the rascal in my 
hands. I searched high and low for him, but so fruitlessly that 
I at last concluded that he had left the city. Yet there was 
something so sudden and mysterious about his disappearance 
that I had a lingering suspicion that he was cleverly hidden. 
Of this suspicion nothing came for about three weeks, when in 
passing along the South Bridge, I chanced to glance down 
Infirmary Street, and swiftly noticed, among the motley crowd 
there gathered awaiting the hour for the admission of the friends 
of patients, Colty's wife. I was past the street before I had 
thought much of the circumstance; then I started and pulled 
up before a draper's window, and had a good think while appa- 
rently absorbed in studying the beauties of the latest foppish 
necktie or stand-up collar. The woman, I knew, had not 
noticed me, and I thought I would wait a little, and learn what 
relative she was so concerned about as to wish to see, That 



2i 4 AN VNBURTED BURGLAR. 

she should be in Edinburgh, and her husband out of it, was a 
thing I could not for a moment believe. He battered her 
regularly within an inch of her life, I believe, but she was never 
a day away from his side; indeed, Colty often bewailed the 
fact that he could not shake her off. As soon as I saw the 
crowd crush within the opened door, I moved down to the gate 
and tackled the porter — 

" Did you notice a woman with bare head, broken nose, and 
red shawl go in just now?" 

" I did, sir. She's in seeing her husband, isn't she ? Her 
name is Brown ? eh ? " 

"She might call herself that, and him too; for they have a 
curious habit of changing their names ; but have you any ideq 
what is wrong with her husband ? " 

" Bitten by a mad dog, I think. Lacerated shoulder, but 
not dangerous," promptly answered the man. " The woman 
tried to smuggle in some whisky to him the first time she came, 
but I took it from her and she hasn't tried it again, though, to 
be sure, I always search her." 

" Bitten by a dog ?" I echoed, with the most intense satisfac- 
tion. "I think I shall go in and see him; I have a deep in- 
terest in his health. Which ward, please ?" 

" Number 8, Surgical Hospital." 

"Number 8? Good gracious, and The Daisy died in Num- 
ber 7 ! No wonder I could not find the rascal, with him hiding 
under my very nose." 

This last was my thought, but I did not utter it aloud. It 
would have made me look too foolish. A decent fool will often 
pass for a wise man if he has only the sense to hold his 
tongue. 

I marched down to the Surgical and up the stair to No. 8 
ward, which I entered in time to see Colty rise to a sitting 
posture in bed to partake of tea, with his wife looking on and 
perhaps envying him of the comfort. I appeared to disturb 
him, for he dropped the basin and bread with a sharp " D — n 
it ! there's M'Govan," which drew a similar expression of affec- 
tion and esteem from his wife. 

Colty objected to leave his snug quarters, loudly asserted 
that to move him would be as good as taking his life ; but when 
I referred the matter to the house surgeon, the truth came out, 
which was that Colty, suspected of imposing on the institution, 
had been frightened by the threat of a burning operation on the 
morrow, and had really agreed to leave that night. I therefore 



AN UNBURIED BURGLAR. 215 

assured him that his shoulder would be well tended in prison, 
and marched him off. 

Poor Colty ! had he been anything but a burglar, he would 
have been to be pitied. To understand his anguished feelings, 
it must be understood that, in the death of The Daisy, he had 
suffered a keen personal loss, the dead thief having owed him 
a round sum, lost in gambling, which there was now no pros- 
pect of recovering. And all this, with the loss of his knife 
and the subsequent tracing of himself to his snug hiding-place, 
he owed to the brute of a mastiff out at Ellerton Hall ! Is it 
surprising that Colty should think of that dog every hour of 
the day, dream of it by night; and, whether sleeping or wak- 
ing, curse it — tail, body, head, and teeth — to all time? Nay, is 
it to be wondered at that he even swore that the first visit 
upon leaving jail that he meant to pay would be, knife in 
hand, to that brute at Ellerton Hall ? 

After an interval spent by us in vainly endeavouring to 
strengthen the evidence against Colty, he was brought to trial 
upon two charges — one a trifling theft, and the other the 
housebreaking. The second, as I had feared, had to be 
abandoned, and Colty drew a sigh of relief when the simple 
sentence was passed of nine months' imprisonment. 

" I'll pay him back yet, and his dog too," he was heard to 
mutter, as he was led from the bar, evidently alluding to the 
Major, who had appeared in evidence against him ; but as the 
rash words had not reached the judge's ears, they were allowed 
to pass unchallenged, and he left the Court without having his 
sentence augmented. 

At the expiry of his term, Colty had his shabby clothes 
returned to him in exchange for the prison suit, and along 
with them received his knife, which I believe pleased him more 
than if he had been presented with a sovereign, though it 
would have been dear at threepence. With the chaplain's 
warnings and the governor's advice wringing in his ears, Colty 
went with his wife to their home in Blackfriars Wynd, walloped 
her well, and robbed her of fifteen shillings which she had 
saved for rent. He then bought a second-hand pistol and a 
bullet mould from a broker in St Mary's Wynd, saying that he 
had a brute who would not stop biting, and would be best put 
out of pain. With some lead spoons and an iron shovel, he 
then made some bullets, loaded the pistol, and with it and the 
knife treasured in his bosom, left Edinburgh for Ellerton Hall. 
Did no guardian angel whisper to him a warning as he trudged 



216 AN UN BURIED BURGLAR. 

the lonely road — a warning to turn, if he would see another 
sunset like that which was reddening the sky at his right ? If it 
did it was unheeded. Yet if he had only had the sense to 
make inquiry, he would have learned that which would have 
dissuaded him more effectually than any warnings, that his foe, 
the mastiff, had ceased to exist. The truth is that the dog 
had never fairly recovered from the stab with Colty's worn and 
probably dirty-bladed knife. The wound had been trifling, 
but it had refused to heal, and but a week before Colty's 
/elease, had become so hopelessly bad that the poor brute had 
to be poisoned to end its sufferings. Colty knew nothing of 
this, and though it was unfortunate for him, it was a boon to 
the world. Colty waited patiently till midnight in the wood 
behind the house, and then got over the wall, cocked his pistol, 
and stole on stocking soles round to the kennel in front. 
There was a little moonlight, and Colty fully expected the 
dog to spring out the moment his shadow crossed the kennel 
mouth, but to his surprise there was no movement, no sound, 
no rattling of the chain. A closer inspection explained the 
cause — the kennel was empty, the chain lying rusting on the 
ground, and the leather collar gone. 

" They've took him inside, most likely set him free in the 
passages, with the doors of the empty rooms open, so that he 
may watch where he's most wanted," was probably Colty's 
reflection. " Never mind ; I'll get at him just as well, though 
I should have to shoot him through the window. I'll get in 
somehow, and he'll not be long of hearing me, I swear." 

He slowly made the round of the building, but was rather 
disgusted to find that every window within reach but one was 
guarded without by strong iron bars. The solitary exception 
attracted his attention particularly ; and by clambering up on 
the sill of this window, he was able to make a series of sur- 
prising discoveries. In the first place it was unfastened, but 
guarded within by a series of iron bars arranged much in the 
style of a strong gate. Between the window and this iron gate 
there was room for a man to stand, and on one of the shutters 
hung within easy reach a heavy key evidently intended to open 
the eccentric window protection. Colty stared at the whole 
open-mouthed, and then in all likelihood thought that he under- 
stood the whole contrivance. 

" It's the Major's strong room, most likely ; the place where 
he keeps his plate and jewels and treasure. What's to hinder 
me from lifting the sash of the winder, opening the thing with 



AN UNBURTED BURGLAR. 217 

that key, if it fits the lock, and then lifting more than I missed 
the last time ? But, hist ! What s that lying in the dark corner 
over there on the floor? It's like a beast — a big one, too. 
Good. I see it all now. It's the dog; the brute that I've 
come here to kill. He's been put in here to watch the treasure. 
Now, if I can only get in without waking him — just close 
enough to put the pistol to his ear — I'll treasure him !" 

Very cautiously Colty raised the sash and stepped close up 
to the bars within to discover if the sleeping animal were really 
his old foe, but failing in that he took down the key hanging 
on the shutter, and gently pushed the curious gate inwards. 
Finding that the hugh animal still slept, he reclosed the gate 
to make sure that it should not escape, and then, pistol in hand, 
was about to step across to the obscure corner, when his heels 
suddenly slid under him, landing him, with a heavy thud, in a 
sitting posture on the glassy floor. Had he had time to think 
of it, he would then have seen that the floor was covered with 
a smooth iron plate littered with sawdust, and that the wall ot 
the apartment had been similarly protected ; but the sleeping 
animal chanced to wake at the sound of his sudden drop, and 
then, as it raised its hugh head and glowing eyes, Colty sat 
gasping with horror, unable to move or utter a sound. 

" Good God ! it's a tiger, a real living Bengal tiger ! " he 
probably groaned, leaping to his feet and slipping, scrambling, 
and stumbling in mad haste backwards towards the iron gate 
guarding the window, as the animal with low growls advanced 
from its corner upon him. " Good heavens ! what am I to do? 
I've heard of some coves fixing them with their eye, but, Lord 
help me, this one's eye is near as big as my head." 

The tiger advanced, licking its lips as a cat might over a 
cowering mouse, and in desperation the unhappy burglar 
had levelled the old pistol at its forehead and drawn the trigger. 
Alas ! for the reputation of St Mary's Wynd and its brokers — 
the pistol missed fire ! The snapping of the trigger, far from 
awing or scaring the huge beast, seemed but to irritate it ; and 
after crouching back like a cat for a moment or two, while 
Colty sank back fainting with terror against the bars, it was 
through the air with a bound, and in a moment had his bones 
crunching in his teeth. An awful yell, wild and piercing as 
human throat could emit, rent the air ; but though it was heard 
through the house, no one attended to it, or left their bed to 
ascertain the cause. Thus the Bengal man-eater had every- 
thing its own way, and when its cage was entered in the morn- 



218 AN UNBURIED BURGLAR. 

ing, Colty had ceased to have a bodily existence. His clothes, 
it is true, were there, and his knife ; but he himself was gone, 
though there was abundant evidence in the place that he had 
not left his clothes of his own accord. There was nothing to 
speak of, of Colty to bury ; and though he did no good in life, 
he had in dying conferred the only possible boon upon surviv- 
ing humanity — saved it the expense of burying him. As for 
the tiger which had thus proved such a blessing to the world, it 
lived happily for many years ; but having acquired a taste for 
flesh other than that of cows, it one morning, in an unguarded 
moment, ungratefully snapped off one of the Major's arms, who 
thereupon ordered it to be shot — a clear proof of how even a 
peaceable and good-natured tiger may be corrupted and brought 
to an untimely end by intercourse with a criminal. The cir- 
cumstance points its own moral. 



CAUGHT IN A GREY COAT 219 



CAUGHT IN A GREY COAT. 

Oxe summer — I think towards the end of May, but certainly 
when the days were both bright and long — Joss Robson, a 
Glasgow criminal of both daring and dexterity, was " wanted" 
particularly by me in Edinburgh. Joss was a convict, his last 
sentence having been five years' penal, and had shown himself 
ungrateful for his ticket-of-leave, not only by failing to report 
himself, but by at once resuming his old trade, and helping to 
break into a clothier's shop in the New Town, from which shop 
goods worth above a hundred pounds, as well as some cash 
and bank notes left in the till, had been removed. Glasgow is 
a cheap place for many things, and to that city I turned my 
eyes in hope of tracing some of the plunder. Of course, Joss 
himself had prudently left Edinburgh; indeed, it was his sudden 
absence which first led me to connect him with the robbery, 
which suspicion was confirmed by subsequent gleanings and 
siftings. I spent a day in the western metropolis in company 
with Johnny Farrel, and actually did discover, not only one or 
two articles from the plunder, but undoubted evidence that 
Joss himself had been the seller. There were many peculiari- 
ties about the man's appearance to impress it upon the memory, 
and though I had seen him but once before, I had little doubt 
that I should be able to identify him at a glance when we met. 
Joss had a prominent forehead; eyes round, dark, and intelli- 
gent, and hair a reddish brown. 

There was nothing of the brutalised convict about him now 
that his hair had grown; indeed, he resembled a dapper clerk 
or draper's assistant more than a desperate criminal. To 
Johnny Farrel, of course, he was perfectly well known, having 
been one of his " bairns " from the moment his first conviction 
had been scored against him; therefore I am justified in gently 
easing off the weight, or part of the weight, of any complica- 
tions that followed from my own shoulders on to those of my 
friend. 

After a day's hard work in Glasgow, I returned to this city to 



2 2o CAUGHT IN A GREY COAT. 

await results, while Johnny so successfully continued his work, 
that in two days he had come upon a direct clue to the den in 
which Joss had burrowed. In wandering up Little Dove Hill 
one forenoon, with the intention of seeking Joss in his den, he 
was agreeably surprised to see that gentleman walking down in 
his direction, attired in a new grey summer overcoat. With 
quickened strides Johnny crossed the street to intercept the 
shop-breaker, who from a calm and contented smoke at his 
short pipe, awoke to the fact that a detective, sharp-eyed and 
eager enough to mean business, was advancing upon him. In 
a moment he had scented danger, dashed down his pipe, and 
turned to fly; but then Johnny had him in his grasp, and would 
have retained him but for a sudden grappling of Joss, and a 
deft hooking of the legs from his foe. Farrell fell heavily, and 
while he was scrambling to his feet, Joss turned and flew like 
the wind. For some distance Farrel kept him in sight, till 
Joss darted into an entry having more than one outlet by 
greens and stairs to a street running parallel. Farrel had more 
than once lost his quarry at the same rookery, and by the 
identical means upon which Joss now seemed to desperately 
rely; and as experience teaches, he did not follow the shop- 
breaker into the entry, but, flying on, turned the corner and 
reached the next street, down which he ran, keenly on the 
outlook for the fugitive. A full minute passed without a trace 
of Joss, and Farrel was beginning to believe him lost for the 
time being, when a glimpse of the familiar grey overcoat slip- 
ping stealthily and fearfully from an entry further down 
rewarded his astute calculation, and sent him thundering down 
on the wearer before he had time to quicken his steps to a run. 
This time the man made no attempt at violence, which was, 
perhaps, as well for himself, seeing that Farrel's blood was 
up, and a real policeman's staff in his hand, which he would 
now have been perfectly justified in using. The thought that 
all was not right did not once cross Farrel's mind; and when 
he had handcuffed the prisoner's wrist to his own, and con- 
veyed him to the Central, and the prisoner, on being taken 
belore the Superintendent, as is usual, was requested to uncover 
his head, a fresh confirmation seemed to crop up. The clean- 
ness and brightness of the silk lining to the felt hat of the 
prisoner caught Farrel's eye ; and glancing into it he was pleased 
to find legibly printed upon it, in letters of gold, the name and 
address of the Edinburgh clothier's he was charged with break- 
ing into. A close inspection of the grey tweed overcoat also 



CA UGHT IN A GRE Y COAT. 221 

revealed the same address printed as legibly upon the black 
suspender inside the back of the collar. The case seemed 
now so clear that the usual questions were put only as a 
matter of form; and regarding the first the prisoner seemed to 
think so too, for. he said rather resignedly — 

" My name ? You know it well enough already, don't you ?" 

" No insolence, please," sharply interposed the Superinten- 
dent. " Your name ? " 

" Joshua Robson," answered the prisoner with (he utmost 
calmness; then adding, with wonderful politeness, "I did not 
mean to be insolent, sir; I did not, really." 

"Any trade?" 

" Oh, yes; but I am not working just now," hurriedly answered 
the prisoner. " I would rather not say anything about myself." 

" Please yourself," drily observed his questioner. " You 
will be taken through to Edinburgh to-morrow." 

He was taken away and locked up; and then by overhauling 
the list of goods reported as stolen from the Edinburgh clothier, 
Johnny made sure of his case by finding the identical articles 
found upon the prisoner there enumerated. The next morning, 
accordingly, the prisoner was brought through still wearing the 
coat and hat; and as I was in the Office when they arrived, I 
was shown the prisoner with some elation by Johnny, with the 
words — 

" Here's a man you're anxious to see, to say nothing of the 
coat he wears." 

I looked the shuffling and shrinking prisoner full in the face 
for a moment in silence, and then said rather awkwardly — 

" Why, is this Joss Robson ? " 

I must have looked either stupid or puzzled, for the query 
as well as the look elicited a hearty laugh from the Fiscal. 

" Of course it is," he promptly answered. '• I thought you 
knew him, and had taken his portrait. Eh, Jamie, never 
boast of your memory for faces again." 

I stared at the prisoner a second time, and began to make 
out several of the features as recorded in my memory — the 
prominent forehead, round eyes, and reddish brown hair; yet 
though I had seen Robson but once, I was still dubious enough 
to say inquiringly to the prisoner — 

" Well, Joss, you've got back again ? " 

The man stared, neither sullenly nor ill-naturedly, but with 
just the slightest opening of the eyes, as I imagined, and then 
answered, with calm indifference — 



222 CA UGHT IN A GRE Y CO A T 



" Yes, I've got back." 

Still a little doubtful, I said — 

"You are Joss Robson, aren't you?" Whereupon he 
quickly answered — 

"Yes; hell tell you that;" and, as he indicated Farrel, 
Johnny added — 

" Yes, I got a clyte in the dirt frae 'urn that minded me o' 
auld times. He scented danger the moment he got his een 
on me." 

I now concluded that my first interview with Joss had either 
been very profitless, or that his appearance had altered some- 
what with the new and superior clothes he now wore; and 
without saying more to expose my own stupidity, as I thought 
it, I saw the case taken down and the prisoner locked up till 
next day, when he was remitted to the High Court on a well 
supported charge of shop-breaking and robbery. 

By the time the trial came on I had become so familiar with 
the features of the accused that I sometimes faintly wondered 
that I should have hesitated when first he was brought before 
me; but I was nevertheless struck with a remarkable change 
in his manner. Instead of the old bullying and reckless 
bravado, there was a quiet and gentle manner, and in place of 
loud talkativeness, a reticence which it was all but impossible 
to break. The health of the prisoner had altered for the worse, 
it is true; his appetite was bad, and he often complained of 
weakness and a pain in his chest; but as he had during his 
former sentence been reported as a cunning malingerer, who 
would try any trick to escape working, little attention was paid 
to these hints. On the case being called at the High Court, 
the change in his demeanour was again remarkable. Formerly 
he had apparently prided himself upon his boldness in pleading 
" Not guilty," for the sake of displaying his wits in the shape 
of cross-examination of the witnesses; but now he looked 
wonderingly up in the judge's face, and said with curious 
simplicity — 

" Which will be the best for me ? If I plead guilty, will it 
make my sentence shorter ? " 

This speech was so little expected that for a moment the 
Court was taken aback; but after a pause for consultation he 
was informed that it would probably be to his advantage to 
plead guilty, when he quietly nodded his head, and said, some- 
what wearily — 

" Then I plead guilty to the charge." 



CA UGHT IN A GRE Y CO A T. 223 

The sentence was five years' penal servitude, which other- 
wise would have been seven, with the addition of the unfulfilled 
years of his first sentence. Thus his forethought saved him at 
least four and a-half years' imprisonment; yet the circumstance 
was so unusual that I opened my eyes and remarked to some 
one, " The world is surely coming to an end, for here is a sturdy 
rogue who can actually see more than an inch beyond the 
present." 

Thus the matter rested; and I daresay thus it would have 
stood till the end of time, had I not chanced, some years after, 
to be in the Penitentiary at Perth, trying to get information 
which one of the convicts there alone could supply. My 
mission was a failure so far as the immediate object was con- 
cerned, for the man absolutely refused to open his lips; but in 
going through the place one of the upper warders chanced to 
say to me — 

" Do you know a man called Joss Robson ? He came from 
your place for house-breaking." 

" I know him, or knew him at the time," I answered. 
" What has he done now ? " 

I fully expected an account of some brutal and unprovoked 
attack upon the harmless turnkey, in which Joss bore the lion's 
share of the work; but the man only said with a curious smile — 

" What do you think of him now ? " 

" Think of him ? " I echoed, trying to read the sceptical 
expression lighting my questioner's face. " How ? in what 
way ? " 

" Isn't he a deep schemer, and lazy to the back bone ? " 

" Really, that's more than I could take upon me to say," I 
irankly replied. "Every thief is lazy enough, and deep too, as 
a rule." 

" Yes; but what I mean is, don't you think him a shammer 
in regard to sickness — a malingerer pretending to be very weak 
just to get into hospital?" 

" I've heard something of that kind about him during his 
first visit to this place, but what of it ? " 

" Why, this. He is in an hospital now — been so for months 
= — and from shamming illness he has actually turned it to a 
reality. In truth, I do not believe he will recover." 

"Were you sure he was shamming? What did the doctor 
say?" 

" That's the curious thing. The doctor said with a smile, 
before he saw him, that he guessed what his trouble was, 



224 CA UGHT IN A GRE Y COAT. 

remembering his reputation under the former sentence; but no 
sooner did he see him and examine him, than he took me aside 
and said, ' The man is undoubtedly ill, and has been so for 
many a day. One of his lungs must be nearly gone. He may 
not live out his sentence." 

" Humph ! the old story; but I never thought a powerful 
rascal like him would dwindle into a consumptive," was my 
short comment. " Could I see him?" 

" I am coming to that; indeed it was that made me ask you 
if you knew him. He seems to have heard a deal about 
you in this place and out of it — as who has not ? — and taken 
a second notion of you; for more than once he has said, 'I 
don't believe I'll ever go out of these walls alive; but if ever 
M'Govan should be near here, I'd like to see him and speak to 
him.' " 

I was not surprised. The request was not an unusual one; 
and I merely nodded, saying — 

" I daresay he wants to let me know of some buried plunder 
which can be of no more use to him; or to set me on the 
track of the beloved pals who were engaged with him at the 
robbery, but who have been more lucky in eluding us." 

Thus carelessly and somewhat callously reasoning, as it may 
seem, I was led to the prison hospital, where a thin shadow 
of a man lay, in whom I had the utmost difficulty in tracing a 
resemblance to my former prisoner, Joss Robson. Weak and 
wasted as he was, however, he seemed to have no difficulty in 
recognising me; for he held out his thin hand with a gladsome 
smile and a sudden rush of blood to his face, and then I said 
as cheerily as possible — 

" Well, Joss, how are you getting on ? I'm sorry to see you 
so low." 

" Well, it's more than I am myself," he weakly returned, 
after a pause to raise himself and cough in an ominously hollow 
and hectic way, holding his hand on his breast as he did so. 
'■' I'll be glad indeed when it sets me free." 

" How? Are they not kind to you here?" I inquired, thus 
interpreting a weary, weary look of pain which flitted for a 
moment across his sunken features. 

" Kind enough— as kind as they need be to a dying man ; 
for dying I am. What need to hide the truth? I'm not sorry 
or afraid either." 

I was about to say something about such an end being a 
common one to crime — I had seen it so often — but I checked 



CA VGHT IN A GRE Y CO A T 225 

the words just as they were escaping my lips. But the quick 
eyes of the patient were upon my face at the moment, and he 
seemed to hear the words unspoken. 

" I know what you would say; that a convict or a criminal 
can expect nothing better: a bad beginning a bad ending," he 
eagerly observed; "but you're wrong — completely mistaken. 
This is not the end of crime — it is a broken, heart;" and as he 
gasped out the words, with a pink spot on either cheek, and his 
scant breath coming in quick pants, I saw the tears creep 
slowly into his eyes, and there glisten till I thought them 
actually beautiful. 

" A broken heart? " I echoed in amazement. " How so ? " 

" I don't know if I can tell you how so," he wistfully returned. 
" That depends on yourself. I've heard that you're not so bad 
as you're called; that there's such a thing as real sympathy under 
your sharp eye and rough voice; and as my story is as strange 
as it is true, I would like to tell it to you, and you alone. But 
I should not like it to be used against any one; as what good 
would another suffering do to me or any one ? If you will 
promise me that, I will tell you all." 

I thought for a moment, and then reluctantly answered — 

" Has it anything to do with aught that I am bound to reveal 
as part of my duty ? " 

" Nothing." 

" Then you have my promise." 

He took my hand again and pressed it gratefully, and then 
resumed — ■ 

" I must begin at the beginning, by telling you that I was 
brought up at a place near Hamilton, where my companion at 
school was a boy who went by the nickname of ' Top.' He 
and I were seldom long separate in mischief or well-doing, and 
as a consequence I was called ' Peerie,' as much because we 
were companions as because we were said to resemble each 
other in appearance. At that time I was, if possible, the 
greater dare-devil of the two, and many a fault that ' Top ' fell 
into was unflinchingly suffered for by 'Peerie;' indeed, we 
thought it manly to bear each other's punishments. But as we 
grew in years a change took place in our dispositions. I 
became quiet and studious, while he, for want of parents or 
controlling hands, ran wild and uncared for. We were almost 
drifting apart on that account, when he took it into his head 
that he would get on better in Glasgow, and thus we were com- 
pletely sundered. As years passed, and we became men, I 
s. c. p 



226 CAUGHT IN A GREY COAT. 

heard of him from time to time, first that he had been con- 
victed of theft, and then of more serious crimes, till at length 
it became certain to me that he had degenerated into a low 
criminal, a pest to himself and to all about him. Yet I always 
hoped that I had been mistaken or misinformed; and a thing 
that happened about that time seemed to strengthen the feel- 
ing. I got out of work — I was a silk shawl weaver by trade — 
and had to go to Glasgow to look for something to do. While 
I was gone, the landlord, who of course had not been paid, 
had the furniture seized, and was selling it off by roup when a 
man pushed into the crowd, after learning the particulars, and 
boldly ' bought in ' the whole and handed the discharged 
receipts to my mother. My mother, poor body, was too 
agitated and tearful to notice much his appearance, but when 
he had gone, as suddenly as he appeared, she asked who he 
was and what he was like. The answer was, ' He looked like 
a Glasgow chappie, and wad have passed for your ain son; 
'deed, it's my belief it was naebody but that ne'er-dae-weel 
k Top.' " 

" Excuse me," I here interposed, with a strange interest 
beginning to thrill me through, and exclaimed: "But what was 
Top's proper name ? — I think you forgot to tell me that." 

" I am coming to that presently," calmly and sweetly 
answered the sick man. " I have no doubt in my own mind 
that the sturdy stranger was ' Top,' though he never afterwards 
would admit the fact to me. I never forgot the strong and 
sudden pull he gave us out of our difficulties, a pull which I 
am certain added a few years to my mother's life. But I am 
now coming to the most important part of all my life, and that 
upon which the whole of my troubles have hinged. Shortly 
after the death of my mother, I fell in love; yes, though 
warned against it by all the wiseacres in the place, I fell in love 
with a pretty face, a pair of witching and sparkling eyes, and 
the most graceful and beautiful form that ever walked this 
earth. Deliberately and with open eyes I allowed myself to 
become fascinated by a girl called Annie Lindsay, and from 
that hour to this can truly say I have never known what peace 
or rest is. Every one saw that she was a flirt, but I saw only 
that she was beautiful. Reasoning is useless when one is in 
love; and though she at first professed to laugh at me and my 
earnest words and looks, I persisted in nourishing the passion 
that was eating my life away, and at length got her to promise 
to marry me, and put on her finger an engagement ring which 



CAUGHT IN A GREY COAT. 227 

I had carried in my pocket for months awaiting her decision. 
But though she had now pledged herself to be my wife, Annie 
caused me more trouble than ever. She seemed never to be 
happier than when flirting with others, and making me jealous 
and unhappy. Yet I loved her stronger and more fiercely 
than ever." 

He paused to recover breath, and the look which he turned 
upon me as he breathed out the last pitiful words said, as plain 
as if he himself had added it, " I love her yet; I could never 
love another." 

" The time came round at last when she was to be my wife, 
and I said to myself that she would sober down soon enough 
when in a house of her own. I took a nice house, and furnished 
it with everything I could think of that she would like. I gave 
her presents, too — a wedding-dress and a number of other 
things; but she suddenly left the place about a week before 
the wedding-day." 

"Ran away?" I breathlessly interposed, powerfully moved 
by his dreadful eagerness to speak, fighting with the agitation 
and weakness that held him back. 

"With the worst and lowest villain she could have picked 
off the streets of Glasgow!" he hotly breathed in reply. " Oh, 
God ! if she had only married some one, or said she did not 
care for ine, or remained a good hardworking girl, I could have 
loved her and protected her to her dying day. No matter 
though I did not get her; it was her happiness, not mine, that 
I was most anxious for; but to run away, to elope, and to 
such a life ! I often wonder I did not die. I could not have 
believed that any one could have endured so much and live; 
could walk through the streets, and see the sun shining, and 
people smiling, and children laughing and jumping, and not 
throw themselves into the river, and have done with it." 

" Did you ever hear of the poor girl again ? " I gently in- 
quired, seeing that his quickened breath was again threatening 
to choke him. 

" Poor girl ! Ay, that's the word — that's the name to give 
it," he chokingly returned, with his eyes again becoming misty. 
" She did not know the life she was going to, or she would 
have gone down to the Clyde, near our place, where it is pure 
and clear, and lain down in the deepest pool to welcome death 
as a friend and saviour. They tell me I went mad after she left 
the place, and used to go to the house I had taken, and touch 
the different articles I had bought, and say, ' Ay, I know Annie 



228 CA UGHT IN A GRE Y CO A T. 

will be pleased with that. Yes; there won't be a happier little 
wife in the world than she will be; there may be a richer, but 
there can't be a happier.' And when I woke out of my troubled 
dreams, Annie was lost sight of for ever by the low villain who 
had taken her away. But she was in Glasgow; everyone said 
that, and I believed it; and I even guessed what she was living 
by, though no one dared to breathe it to me. Well, I sold all 
the things, and put all my savings in my pocket, and went to 
Glasgow. I said nothing to anybody about what I meant to 
do, as I knew they couldn't think with my thoughts, and would 
only pity me or think me silly; but in my own heart I said, 
' I'll find Annie, and pick her out of the mire, and make her a 
pure, good woman, though we should never be aught but 
brother and sister. She shall not die without being able to say 
she had one friend to wish her well.' But Glasgow is such a 
big place, and I knew so little of it, that I spent weary months, 
tramping day after day, night after night, through wynds and 
closes, yet never coming on any trace of her I wanted. I 
could have gone to a detective, and got him or the police to 
help me, but I shrank from telling any one of her shame or my 
weakness. One day I was trailing wearily through a close at 
the east end, when I met what I thought was almost a living 
image of myself. It was ' Top,' looking rather thievish and 
broken-down ; yet I was glad to see him, and though he turned 
sharply away, as if ashamed to meet me, I caught him by the 
arm and said, ' For heaven's sake, Top, don't you turn away 
from me in my trouble; I need help, and you're the only one 
in all this city I'd trust to give it.' He saw that I was fearfully 
cut up and excited, and tried to soothe me, and took me into 
a wretched place near by, where I told him of my loss. Well, 
thieving may be a hardening thing, and Top might be 
brutalised and everything that is bad; but I tell you, when I 
went over all I had suffered, he shed tears of sympathy, which 
is more than I ever got from my own friends. Then he 
grasped my hand in the old kindly and boyish way, and said, 
4 I say, Peerie, I'm real right down sorry to hear this; but you 
try to forget the jilting little jade. She isn't worth one o' them 
tears you've got in your eyes now, not one, and if I met her, I 
tell you I'd kick her!' 'I can't sit and hear a word against 
her ! Oh, Top, find her for me, and you may command every 
penny I have — my life itself!' — and when he saw me get so 
angry and excited, he said at last, 'Well, since you won't give 
her up as a bad lot, I'll help you to find her; but mind, it'll 



CA UGHT IN A GRE Y COAT. 229 

have all to be done at night, because I can't show myself much 
through the day. In fact, Peerie, I'm not fit company for any 
honest man.' 

" We began our search that very night, but somehow, I 
believe, she had got word of me being in town looking for her, 
and changed her lodging more than once, just as we were 
about to discover her. After a weary time spent in this way, 
Top one night appeared before me with the joyful intelligence 
that he had found her, adding that he did not think she could 
give us the slip this time, as she'd been down with a severe ill- 
ness. We started for the place, but just as we turned into the 
street where she lived, Top gripped me hard by the arm, and 
said, ' By gum ! there she is, coming down the street dressed 
like a queen. I s'pose she's been in debt, and they've shoved 
her out.' The moment he spoke I felt a thrill run through my 
heart which I feel sure I should have felt though I had passed 
Annie blindfolded in a crowd, and looking forward saw an evil- 
like shadow of my fair love boldly approach us, with artificial 
smile and painted cheeks. She came close to us, said some- 
thing lightly to me, and then I wrenched at her hand and 
suddenly showed my face in the light of a street lamp, eaying 
at the same moment, with all my heart in my mouth, ' Oh, 
Annie ! I've been seeking you long, long ! ' Like a flash her 
painted cheeks became white as snow, and throwing up her 
arms in the air, she gave out a cry that rang in my ears for 
months after, and dropped in a faint at my feet. I lifted her 
in my arms, kissing her white lips as I did so, and with Top's 
help carried her to a house near by, where she lay ill for a 
week, with me watching her night and day. Then, as she did 
not get stronger, I got a great doctor, and he advised me to 
take her down the river to Dunoon. I went down there with 
her, taking a nice place with a garden full of pretty, pure 
flowers, and everything lovely and sweet, and saying she was 
my sister — as, indeed, she now was to all eternity — but Annie 

never held up her head. She — she " and the voice of the 

narrator became choked and husky. 

" Was taken away ? " I suggested in an awed whisper. 

" In my arms ! " he ejaculated. " Yet I never thought she 
would die, and was full of plans for her future. One night she 
seemed weaker than usual, and I carried her to the window 
looking out on the broad Clyde, which was shining calm and 
beautiful in the moonlight, with the light of the Cloch shining 
out like a star far before. Then she whispered to me that she 



230 CA UGHT IN A GRE V CO A T 

was never to get better in this world, and kissed me and fell 
asleep. The last words I heard her say were, ' Oh, I wish I 
had been taken away when I was an innocent bairn ! ' I buried 
her down there, in reach of the sound of the waves. No one 
knows the spot but me, and I shall never see it again. When 
the green turf was laid over her, I knew that I had no more to 
live for. I came back to Glasgow, but a settled sadness came 
over me; and at last I arranged to go out to Australia as an 
emigrant. But a few days before the time for sailing, I was 
passing through an entry towards a place where I was likely to 
meet Top and bid him goodbye, when he ran full against me 
in a state of great excitement, and suddenly cried — ' Oh, 
Peerie ! The spots are after me ! for the love of God put on 
my coat and hat, and lead them off, or I'm in for ten years at 
least ! ' In a moment I had his coat on, and crept out as he 
had bid me, thinking nothing of the sacrifice, it was so like old 
times, when we were tricky boys. I had forgot for the moment 
about us being thought like each other, and only said my name 
was Joshua Robson, when I heard the detective address me 
thus " 

"Then — good heavens! — you have suffered innocently ! " I 
exclaimed, with my long pent-up excitement and emotion at 
last finding vent. 

"Many suffer innocently in this world, so my case is not 
uncommon," he quietly returned with a deep-drawn sigh, which 
told me what suffering he alluded to. " My name is not Rob- 
son, but William Hanley. Joss Robson and Top are one and 
the same man." 

'• Believe me, I am sorry to hear it; and if anything that I 
can do to obtain your release " 

A firm raising of the wasted hand interrupted me. 

" No, I shall be released soon enough,' he quietly returned. 
" To you I am Will Hanley, but to all others I am still Joss 
Robson, the convict. But I come now to the reason which 
has prompted me to reveal all to you. Have you ever heard 
of one resembling me — in a word, of Top — as a criminal since 
my conviction for his crime ? " 

" Never; he cannot be in Scotland," was my decided reply. 

" I'm glad of that. He almost promised to turn over a new 
leaf," sighed the sick man. " Yes, I'm glad of it; and if ever 
you meet him, tell him I was glad. Will you ? " 

With much emotion I gave the required promise, and after 
leaving the place, spent many an hour in trying to devise 



CA UGHT IN A GRE Y CO A T. 231 

a means of deliverance without breaking my promise to Hanley. 
But four days after I left he was lying as cold and still as the 
girl he had buried away down by the dark green woods and 
clear waters of Dunoon — gone where his devotion and quiet 
self-sacrifice would receive their eternal reward from One who 
Himself suffered " the just for the unjust." Some years after, 
I met Joss, stout, healthy, and prosperous, at a horse show 
near Edinburgh, where he was making large purchases on his 
own account. I gave the man a long keen look, and then going 
up to him said — 

" Well, Joss Robson, how are you ? " 

He paled a little, but recovering in a moment, said boldly— 

" I am quite well, but you've made a mistake. My name is 
William Hanley." 

I smiled sadly, and then assuring him that he was in no 
danger, led him to an adjoining refreshment booth, and told 
him the end of his friend " Peerie," otherwise Will Hanley. 
He was deeply moved by the recital, and when I had con- 
cluded, said frankly — 

" I am Joss Robson ! Do you wish to take me ? I deserve 
it, by G— d ! " 

" No, Joss," I quietly returned, " my business is to take 
thieves, not honest men. I am glad to see that you have got 
out of the pit, and would be the last to throw you into it 
again." 

He wrung my hand in silence ; and <"hus we parted, never 
again to meet. 



232 THE CAM'-STANED DOOR STEP. 



THE CAM'-STANED DOOR STEP. 

They were enraged at me, and how their rage was excited 
was in this wise. There had been a robbery — very cool and 
daring — at a house in the suburbs, and of this robbery I had 
been able to make nothing. I could get neither the slightest 
clue to those who had done it, nor any trace of the plunder. 

The thing had been done on a Sunday afternoon during 
church hours, and while there were at least two servants in the 
house, and all the things taken were from a cabinet in the 
drawing-room, in which they had been displayed to the best 
advantage. This drawing-room was on the first flat, and facing 
the road, so any one with quick eyes might have seen the 
gorgeous display and been tempted to appropriate there and 
then. This fact made me suspect the robbery to be the work 
of a mere tramp or hungry wanderer, and I fully expected to 
hear of the silver in a day or two in some of the pawn offices; 
but when not a trace of it appeared, I began to think that the 
robbery had been a planned affair — a suspicion which was 
strengthened by the fact that there were imprints of more than 
one pair of muddy feet on the drawing-room carpet. 

The muddy footprints were of the colour of that thin and 
almost impassable pool which used to lie in wet weather on 
the Dalkeith Road between Preston Street and the house I am 
alluding to; I therefore concluded that the feet had come out 
from Edinburgh, and not merely delayed a little while going in. 

In all my huntings and searchings I had fondly hoped that 
the plunder would not go to the melting-pot, and had boldly 
assured the distracted owner that he need not distress himself 
with that fear; and my reason for thinking so was that such of 
the articles as were of real silver were of no great weight, but 
all of them were very old and rare, and had a note of their age 
and history pasted upon them. There was, therefore, if the 
thieves could but understand it, a great deal more to be got 
for the things as they stood than by melting them. Some of 
them, indeed, were only of brass or bronze, covered with 



THE CAM'-STANED DOOR STEP. 233 

curious groups and pictures in relief, and it was upon some of 
these that the owner placed a superstitious value. But as days 
went by and I got no trace of the things, I began to fear I had 
made a mistake. The owner, I am certain, if he could possibly 
have got at the thieves without our assistance, would have 
quietly compounded with felony, and brought back his 
things, rather than risk their destruction; but when he 
hinted at such a proceeding, I promptly warned him 
that he would only land himself as well as the thieves in 
prison, at which he sulked and growled not a little. 

Now comes the reason of my amiable friends, the successful 
thieves, being enraged. From my want of success I reasoned 
that the robbery might have been planned and executed by 
strangers, and there was one stranger on my list of arrivals 
whom I had never laid hold of, and without evidence of any 
tangible kind I suspected him of having had a hand in the 
pie. This was a smart-looking fellow named Fred Oakes, but 
known more commonly by the name of Croppy. Possibly it 
was a twinkle of his eye, or an over demure expression of face 
when I was on the hunt, that first roused my suspicion, but I 
got out of temper at last, and went and grabbed him in the 
midst of his friends, in a lodging at the head of the Bow. A 
novice would have fought and set his friends on to fight; but 
Croppy was no novice, so he affected unbounded indignation, 
and said he would make it the dearest mistake I had ever 
made. 

" What am I took for? and what evidence have you against 
me? that's what I want to know." he kept saying; and as I 
could not satisfy him on either point, his rage increased, and 
his protests became so voluble that at last I incautiously 
declared that I would book him for a long sentence, and 
therefore he had better bid good-bye to his friends accordingly. 

There was great howling over this statement of mine, especially 
by Croppy's wife, who was a passionate young Glasgow girl of 
the tiger sort. The horrible threats and blood-curdling 
language which that awful woman heaped upon my head before I 
could get away her beloved, would have made some men faint 
on the spot. They were actually frightful enough to startle 
and horrify even me, and I felt quite a relief when I got 
Croppy safe into the Police Office and her out of hearing. 

The worst of it was that Croppy engaged an agent to defend 
him, and when it was admitted that he was suspected of having 
a hand in the Ashgrove House robbery, this agent worked so 



234 THE CAM'-STANED DOOR STEP. 

strenuously for his release that I began to fear I had made a 
laughing-stock of myself with my big threat. Croppy, I saw, 
would get off, and I exerted myself to the utmost to rake up 
his antecedents; and at length, with the greatest difficulty, got 
a man to come through from Leeds in time to arrest him for 
some cleverness in that town, just as he was discharged by us. 
Croppy was taken to Leeds on a charge of house-breaking, 
tried there, and sentenced to ten years' penal, as well as the 
unfulfilled years of his former sentence. 

The rage of his " grass widow " was fearful. She not only 
used her tongue upon me whenever we met, but made no 
secret of her intention to have me " pitched into" upon the 
earliest possible opportunity. 

" You'll not believe it till you find yourself lying stark dead 
some morning," she said, too enraged to notice her own blund- 
ering, or understand why I smiled ; and then she gave me a 
fresh doze of her wonderful adjectives, enough to make one's 
hair stand on end. 

I could have taken her away and got her to cool her anger 
by thirty days' oakum-picking, but I thought she was all noise 
and no action. I did not even mention to any one that I had 
been threatened, or had cause to fear an attack, I had seen 
so many cases in which these misguided wretches professed the 
most profound grief or lively rage at being deprived of a 
partner, and yet practically forgot it all in a week or two. 
This omission on my part was not unfortunate for me, but it 
was — very — for some one else. 

At the time of Croppy's removal and trial at Leeds I had no 
idea why the horrid woman should have been so persistent in 
her vengeful rage, and, in truth, it was not till long after that I 
learned that Croppy was wholly and absolutely innocent of all 
knowledge of the robbery or connection therewith. Meg's 
rage then was consummated when, through an unjust suspicion 
and arrest, lie had got enmeshed for an old crime, which, but 
for me, might never have been heard of. And the worst of it 
was that, while I was laughing at her threats, she really meant 
to put them into execution. 

A day or two after the news of Croppy's conviction might be 
supposed to have reached this she-tiger, a letter signed 
"Knobstick" was sent in to the Office, stating that if M'Govan 
would, at twelve o'clock that night, go alone to the foot of a 
certain close in the West Port, a person would meet him who 
knew all about the robbery at Ashgrove House, and who was 



THE CAM'-STANED DOOR STEP. 235 

willing to give all information against the persons concerned 
necessary for a conviction and the recovery of the plunder, 
provided that the said person could be ensured of a free pardon 
and the modest reward of ^"5 for his pains. If M 'Go van did 
not go alone, or should "cut up treacherous," by bringing a 
posse of assistants with him, it was judiciously added, the 
whole of the generous offer would be withdrawn, and he would 
find nobody there to reward him for his pains. 

I don't think I should have been quite so foolish as to walk 
into this nicely baited trap, though it is hard to tell, as I have 
before now walked into them when I ought to have known 
better. But as chance had it, I did not even see the letter till 
it was too late, as I was at that moment in a railway train re- 
turning from Newcastle, where I had been engaged upon a 
case of more importance. The letter stated that but one 
chance would be given me of accepting the offer, and that if I 
failed to turn up at the appointed time and place, the writer 
would be hundreds of miles away with his share of the plunder 
with him. The letter, therefore, was handed to M'Sweeny, 
who snapped at the bait like an unsuspicious mouse at toasted 
cheese. 

" Sure, I can arrange terms wid them just as well as Jamie," 
said M'Sweeny in great exultation; "and faith if they don't 
agree to them, I'll have me eyes about me, and spot the 
appearance of the man who meets me, and nip him up the 
first time I meet him again. Then if I get the plunder, it'll be 
all through the papers before Jamie gets back. ' Through the 
activity and energy of Detective M'Sweeny. the property taken 
from Ashgrove House has been recovered, and the thieves 
captured.' How he'll sulk when he sees it ! Begorra, he'll be 
ill for a week after, and unfit for duty for a month." 

Only one consideration pulled him up, and even that was 
not unsurmountable. 

"When they see it's me, they know how stern I am to deal 
wid, and may take fright, and never show face to me," he said; 
but after mature consideration, he decided that, in a dark close 
at midnight, with the aid of a brown wig, and with a little 
burned cork applied to his fiery whiskers, it would be possible 
to deceive them into the belief that M'Govan and not 
M'Sweeny approached their lurking-place. 

"Once they spake to me. it won't matter," he reflected, 
" for then I can grip them and hould on till I get all I want 
out of them." 



236 THE CAM'-STANED DOOR STEP. 

I had been troubled with cold for some weeks, and had worn 
a white muffler and heavy overcoat of blue cloth, and these 
notable points were not lost in M'Sweeny's disguise. He 
carefully soaped down the red bristles which Nature forced 
him to wear instead of hair, and drew on a dark wig, then 
trimmed and blacked his whiskers, and assumed a blue over- 
coat and white muffler, and so took his way at midnight to the 
West Port. Scarcely a person was abroad, even in that rough 
locality; and in the close itself, which has no outlet below, 
dead silence and darkness reigned. M'Sweeny's outline had 
probably been noted the moment he entered the close, but he 
was allowed to pass down to the bottom unmolested. A dark 
stair here yawned before him; and then beginning to feel 
uneasy, I suspect, he'd gently poked his head into the hole and 
said— 

"Are ye there, Knobstick?" 

Instantly there was a reply, but it came from a wooden 
knobstick, which caught him full in the eye with a swinging 
force that sent him reeling backwards against the opposite 
wall. So sudden and unexpected was the attack, that he had 
not time even to shout out when they were upon him. One 
deftly tripped him, and then the other two trod on him, kicked 
him, and pounded at him in perfect silence — at least perfect 
silence was evidently intended, for not an oath or a whisper 
escaped them till M'Sweeny, with a yell that nearly knocked 
over the frail houses, wriggled round among the busy feet, and 
grabbed one by the trousers, and then bit with all his might at 
a fleshy calf which chanced at the moment to come near his 
powerful jaws. 

" Many's the time they've bit me, and, faix, what's good to 
give can't be bad to recave," was his consoling thought as the 
awful cry of the injured ruffian broke the stillness. " I think 
I'd know that voice again, anyhow; and I'll hould on to this 
one though they should murder me alive. Murder! help! 
police! " 

The shout was answered in an unexpected fashion, for the 
moment his strong Irish brogue fell on the ears of his assail- 
ants they ceased with one accord, and stared down into his face 
through the darkness in amazement, while one less cautious 
than the others cried out — 

" Blast it! if we're not pitching into the wrong man !" 

It was all they said, and in a moment more they dashed up 
the close and disappeared, one trouser leg ripping up like paper 



THE CAM'-STANED DOOR STEP. 237 

in M'Sweeny's grasp, and so allowing the owner to escape. 
M'Sweeny sat up and tried to staunch the blood streaming 
from his nose, while the inhabitants of the adjoining houses, 
alarmed at the outcry, came nocking out to learn the cause. 

" Don't ax me what's wrong when ye see I'm kilt — set on by 
murderin' villains," he dolefully answered, shaking his head 
and looking up at them with the one eye left open. " Och, 
och! but I'm bad! I don't believe I'll ever be on duty again. 
They've murdered the best detective that ever walked in shoe 
leather, and never a widow left to mourn his fate. Help me 
up, good paiple. If I'm to die, it may as well be on a soft 
bed as in a gutter. I came to do a man a kindness, and the 
first thing he said was to give me a bat in the eye." 

Thus groaning and moaning, he was helped out of the close 
and sent home in a cab, after which a message was despatched 
to my house informing me of the attack, and connecting it by 
inference with the Ashgrove House robbery. I got this 
message the moment I entered the door, and with scarcely an 
hour's rest started off to see M'Sweeny, full of hope for the 
result. 

Before, I had had absolutely no clue; now I had at least 
something to work upon, if it was only the marks of M'Sweeny's 
teeth on the man's leg. There might be other marks as well, 
for M'Sweeny, in his doleful account of the attack, admitted 
that he had used his feet more than once "in a gineral way " 
among the surrounding legs. My first visit was to the Bow, 
where dwelt the disconsolate " grass widow" of Croppy, but I 
found that she had been gone for three days — exactly one too 
many — and was then far south in England. To this day I 
believe I owed the attempt to her, but, knowing that I would 
suspect her first on account of the threat, she had taken care 
to go away before the attack, with sufficient ostentation to 
make her absence a matter easily proved. This prop in the 
case being knocked away, to what was I to turn? 

There was not at that time another male lodger in the house, 
but I had expected that, and left the place resolved to return 
at a more convenient season. Perhaps I even said so in 
leaving, but, as it turned out, I had no occasion to go back, 
on account of the following curious piecing together of strange 
clues. 

In descending the stair at the head of the Bow, I re- 
membered that the mother of the she-tiger who had united 
her destiny with that of Croppy, kept a lively house in the 



238 THE CAM'-STANED DOOR STEP. 

World's End Close, further down the High Street. Many a 
time I had had the old hag through my hands, and I knew 
but too well that I would get but little out of her if she could 
help it, yet I resolved to visit her den. She had plenty of 
room for lodgers, and I had now the number of the assailants 
— three — as well as the other trifles already noted to guide 
me. 

The old woman answered the door herself, and stood there 
blocking the entrance, and scowling at me and my temporary 
assistant, till I gently intimated that I wished to go inside and 
have a look at her lodgers, when she volubly exclaimed — 

"Lodgers? I haena haen a lodger for dear kens the time. 
The last o' them left me near a week ago." 

Nevertheless, in I would go, and of course I went first to 
the kitchen — which in these places generally takes the place of 
the public coffee-room in an hotel — and there I found the 
breakfast things still on the table. The cups and mugs from 
which the coffee had been drunk were heaped together in the 
middle of the table as for washing, and plates to count by there 
were none; but there were other things quite as good — namely, 
the backbones and other remains of three red herrings. 

" How is this, Maggie? " I said, after noting that the herring 
bones lay at three separate parts of the table. " You've surely 
had company to breakfast this morning?" 

" Ou, ay ; there was a man cam' in for his breakfast ; but 
he's a stranger, and had to be gaun as sune as he was dune," 
she said, with affected coolness. 

" Three, ye mean, Maggie, my wuman?" I observed in gentle 
correction. " A herrin' the piece, ye ken. Naebody ever eats 
mair, unless they want to drink a' day after it." 

Maggie, however, resented correction warmly, and swore by 
the bones of her father, and many things much more sacred, that 
she had given breakfast to but one man. I was glad to see her 
so strong in her assertions. Your out-and-out liar is a great 
help to the puzzled detective. Before I had doubted — now I 
was certain. On the table, beside the herring bones, I picked 
up a darning needle with a thread of grey worsted run through 
its eye. 

"Been darning your stockings, Maggie?" I asked. 

Her answer was a string of adjectives, and a sudden grab 
at the needle, which, however, I held back out of her reach. 

" Ou, ay, I was daein' just that," she said, recovering herself, 
and probably regretting her tell-tale excitement. 



THE CAM'-STANED DOOR STEP 23$ 

" Let's see them," I added ; but Maggie could not oblige me. 
She had, in fact, not a darned stocking to show, and her excite- 
ment over the trifle made me resolve to keep the needle. 
Then Maggie got loud in her protests. It was the only " ane 
in the hoose," and she might need it any time. She " daured " 
me to take it, till at last I said I would be content with the 
thread of worsted, and gave her back the precious needle, 
though she did not appear a whit more pleased at the con- 
cession. From the kitchen I then turned to the bedrooms, 
and in two beds in one of these I found the exact impression 
of three persons — two in one bed and one in the other. The 
places, indeed, were yet warm, as the clothes had never been 
turned down or the room aired. 

"How's this, Maggie?" I said, rather more sharply than I 
had yet spoken ; " the beds are warm. I thought you said no one 
slept here last night?" 

" No a soul has slept in this room for a week," she solemnly 
asserted, as soon as she had had time to make up the lie. " Ye 
jist think it's warm because there's a lum at the back o' the 
bed. That's the warmest place in the hoose." 

" Oh, indeed. And what of the other bed ? There's no lum 
behind it?" I answered, having ascertained that it stood against 
a mere partition of lath and plaster. 

"Oh, I sleepit in that ane myself," she cunningly returned. 

" Then who slept in the kitchen bed? There's been some 
one in it," I remarked ; upon which Maggie took refuge in a 
storm of abuse, which would have irritated me had I not been 
so overjoyed at stumbling on a clue. I contented myself with 
searching the bedroom and all the other places thoroughly, 
and soon convinced myself that the birds had fled. Not a rag 
or an old boot belonging to them had been left ; and 
the very fact that they had risen early and partaken of break- 
fast together pointed to an unusual journey. Were the three 
men I wanted already "hundreds of miles away," as the de- 
coy letter had hinted? I thought not, for it is only after rare 
windfalls that the funds of three thieves will "run to" a long 
railway journey. Supposing them not hundreds of miles away, 
in what direction had they turned their virtuous nebs ? I could 
not even guess ; for, be it remembered, I knew nothing of the 
men's names, their appearance, dress, or antecedents. They 
were as yet absolute blanks to me, and not one of Maggie's 
neighbours, as I knew, would enlighten me in die least. 

While I was debating this point in my mind, my eye chanced 



2 4 o THE CAM'-STANED T)OOR STEP. 

to fall upon a picture of a street in Dundee which was pasted 
above the kitchen mantelpiece — I think it was a view of the 
High Street, with the Pillars and Town Clock in the centre. 
There was no other picture in the room, and, thinking there 
might be a hide behind it, I speedily removed it with my knife. 
I found no hide, and destroyed the picture in taking it off, but 
my work was not fruitless. In taking the picture off I found 
that it had at one time been folded, as if in sending by post, 
and like a flash came the thought, " The old woman must have 
friends in Dundee." 

From this thought to the next was an easy step. 

"Could the three men have gone to Dundee?" Thieves 
who are wanted do not like to go to a strange town 
where they know no one ; they prefer a place where a friend 
is waiting ready to give them shelter till the hue and cry is over. 
I determined to go down to the Railway Station at once. 

There I found that only one man who was suspected as one 
of my " bairns " had appeared at the ticket window, but then 
he had asked and obtained three third-class tickets for Dundee. 

The ticket clerk had an idea that, while this man got the 
tickets, another had stood just outside the rail, having under his 
arm a faded green carpet-bag, but of that he could not be cer- 
tain, nor could he give me any definite description of their features 
or dress I telegraphed at once to Dundee to have the three 
waited for on the arrival of the train, but they must have got 
out at some station outside of the town, for they were not in 
the train when it arrived. I reached Dundee in the afternoon, 
and with the help of a clever man, on the night staff there, and 
well acquainted with all the 'Tiowfs," I started for a hunt 
through the town. I got him to take me to all the likely places, 
giving the preference to those occupied by Edinburgh folks 
who had taken up their abode in Dundee, but we were quite 
unsuccessful, and were coming through a close leading from 
the Overgate into the Nethergate, thoroughly tired out, when 
my eye fell on a white cam'-staned door step. In Dundee, I 
may explain, the housewives use a kind of dirty blue pipeclay 
to their door-steps, peculiarly offensive to the eyes of us Edin- 
burgh folks, who are always accustomed to the pure white, and 
the sight of this one done with white was quite refreshing to 
my eyes. 

" Stop," I said to my guide. " Here is surely an Edinburgh 
tenant? Who lives in here?" 

"Oh, they're pretty square," was the answer. "The man 



THE CAM'-STANED DOOR STEP. 24T 

works, and the woman keeps lodgers j but, yes — they come from 
Edinburgh." 

" Lodgers? that'll do — let's go in," I answered, and in we 
went. The place was a kitchen and a room, and it was the 
former we entered first, the room being at the back. Three men 
were having tea at the fireside, and the only one facing the 
door no sooner saw my face than he half started from his seat 
with a suppressed " Good God ! " Of course he sat down 
again, biting his lip, and trying to go on with his tea, while his 
companions sedulously followed his example, but the mischief 
was done; and while I made my guide stand with his back on 
the closed door, I slowly went over the three silent men, 
examining them from head to foot, making them stand up for 
the purpose, and all without once saying what had brought me 
there. One had on trousers of grey tweed, and one of the legs 
of these near the bottom had been torn up and afterwards 
roughly sewed together with a thread of grey worsted. I took 
a piece of the same colour from my purse, and found that they 
matched exactly. 

" That'll do for you," I said, as he resumed his seat, with a 
terror-stricken aspect, and a thud which suggested that he had 
dropped into it rather than sat down. " Now, you," I said to 
another, who had limped slightly in being turned round, " let's 
see your leg — not that one — the right — the right, you fool ! " 

He did not seem able to exert himself much, so I turned up 
the trouser leg and pulled down his stocking for him, when I 
found the calf tied round with a dirty linen rag which smelt 
strongly of whisky. Under this the flesh was black and dis- 
coloured, as with a powerful bite or compression, and I smiled 
out as I told him to tie it up again. 

" One would think from the whisky you have put on it that 
you took M'Sweeny for a mad dog," I remarked, when he 
winced in a sickly manner and sat down. " That'll do for you. 
Now you," I said to the third, who was sitting in his shirt- 
sleeves, "get your coat on, for I mean to take the whole batch 
of you with me." 

He went sheepishly towards the back room to obey, and I 
thought best to go with him to prevent mistakes. His coat lay 
on a chair covering something bulky, and when he lifted it I 
saw that the bulky article was a faded green carpet-bag wanting 
the handles, and sewed together at the mouth with three ply of 
the same fatal grey worsted. 

I deftly opened the bag with a slash of my knife while he put 
s. c. Q 



242 THE CAAP-STANED DOOR STEP. 

on his coat, and there I found nearly all the antique articles of 
bronze and silver which had been taken from Ashgrove House. 
Of course all three strenuously denied all knowledge and own- 
ership of the bag or its contents, but the landlady settled the 
matter by promptly declaring it to be theirs, and nobody's but 
theirs. 

I took them back to Edinburgh with me next day, and by 
the time their trial came on they had thought better of it, and 
pleaded guilty to the charge of robbery, and were sentenced 
severally to seven and ten years' penal. M'Sweeny, who was 
off duty for some weeks through the attack, growled a deal at 
the charge of waylaying being departed from, and still more 
when I consoled him by saying — 

"It's not lost what a friend gets, Barney, and nobody can 
deny that you took the most pains in the case." And to this 
day M'Sweeny is sensitive to any mention of the word " knob- 
stick" 



THE MISSING TOOLS. 243 



THE MISSING TOOLS. 

One afternoon in summer I found a man waiting for me a; 
the Central Office, where he had impatiently sat out two hours 
— his dinner hour and another at the back of it — expecting me 
to appear. 

" I want to know if you have discovered any of the stolen 
tools taken from the cabinet workshop of Wilson & Sons," he 
abruptly began, the moment I stood before him. " I'm James 
Brockie, one of the men, and the principal sufferer, so I've an 
interest in knowing." 

" No; I'm sorry to say that we have neither heard of them 
nor traced the thief," I gravely replied, remembering the report 
of the mysterious robbery by the foreman of the establishment; 
"indeed, seeing that the thief was supposed to be a drunken 
tramp who was employed for a short time in your workshop, it 
is not likely that we will hear of him or the tools for some 
time." 

" It was supposed to be him," said Brockie, with bitter 
emphasis, "but the suspicion was unjust." 

'• How do you know that? Have you a clue to the real 
thief? " I inquired, with fresh interest. 

"I think I have; but whether I'm right or wrong, it wasn't 
the tramp who took the tools, though Archie Hooker, I remem- 
ber, was the first to suggest that it might have been him," 
pursued Brockie, with the same ill-subdued excitement. " The 
fact is the tools have been vanishing regularly ever since the 
tramp disappeared. I've stood it a long time and watched my 
shopmates like a lynx, but I can make nothing out against any 
of them; so, as a cabinetmaker's tools aren't got for nothing, 
I resolved to come here and see you on my own responsibility." 

"You've lost some lately then?" I said, pretty sure that 
more was coming. 

"Lost some? Ay, new ones that had never touched a 
plank — that cost me nigh ten pounds only a week ago," he 
hotly returned. " Curse the thief, whoever he is — he knows 



244 THE MISSING TOO IS. 

what tools are — for he always takes the scarcest and dearest. 
He's quite above touching an ordinary jack plane or hand-saw." 

"Are you beginning to suspect one of the men now in the 
place?" I asked, after an awkward pause. 

"lam; and that's the truth, though it would be a libel, I 
suppose, to say it to any but the police," said Brockie. 
"There's a man at the bench next to me; goodness knows 
he doesn't need to steal the tools out of poverty, for he's quite 
as good a worker as me; and it's him I suspect. His name is 
Archie Hooker." 

"What object could he have in taking your tools?" 

"Jealousy, I suppose. He gets all the best work though 
I'm as good as he, and wants to keep me back, just when he 
sees I'm getting my tool chest well filled. And he wouldn't 
lend me a tool, not though I was dying for it." 

" But really I understood that more than one or two had 
lost tools," I said, in demur to the vague charge, and to the 
still more shadowy evidence supporting it. 

"Yes; but that may be all through his cunning," returned 
Brockie; " he may take some of theirs just to divert suspicion, 
and make me not too ready in charging him." 

" But how could he take them without your knowledge?" 

" That's the mystery — that's what you must find out," frankly 
rejoined Brockie. " I consider myself a sharp man, and cunn- 
ing as need be, yet it beats me to find out how it's done. I tell 
you he's as deep as the grave, for I've put tools out within 
reach of his hands, tools that could have gone into his waist- 
coat pocket, and then left the shop for a minute or two, just to 
see if he'd finger them, but he was too deep for me, and never 
touched them. No; they're taken in a way that seems magical 
— spirited away, as it seems." 

" About what time do they generally disappear? " 

"Oh, at all times. Sometimes in the day time, and some- 
times between night and morning. For a time after the last 
complaint they did not vanish, but it's begun again, and with a 
vengeance." 

" Is it possible that they can be taken when the men are 
absent; at meal hours, for instance?" 

"Yes, but the place is locked up then; there's a man there 
for the purpose — a harmless old soul, who is naturally much 
put about at the report, as he is as likely to be suspected as 
any one. But, of course, Hooker might have a false key to 
the place; indeed, I remember onee when old Simpson was 



THE MISSING TOOLS. 245 

out of the way when the hour was. up, and we couldn't get in, 
Hooker tried the door with a key of his own — he said it was 
his house key — and let us in easily enough." 

"Then you suspect that he gets in thus while the shop is 
empty? " 

'• I blame no one," guardedly returned Brockie. " I don't 
want to get into trouble myself, or to land any one else into it 
unjustly. But I should say you are not far wrong. The things 
can't go without hands." 

" Are you quite sure you have told me all you know ? Are 
you not keeping back something?" I asked after a pause. " If 
your tools are to be recovered we must know all." 

" There is only one thing, though I must say it was the first 
that made me suspect Hooker," answered my visitor, rather 
reluctantly. " One day I had been using an American spoke- 
shave, a patent thing, the body of which is of iron instead of 
wood, like our English-made ones. It was the only tool of 
the kind in the whole shop. Well, I left it on my bench at 
night, but in the morning when I got in it was gone. I don't 
know what made me think of it, but I went straight to Hooker's 
bag, which hangs above his bench, and hadn't turned over a 
dozen of the tools when I found my American spokeshave." 

" Might he not have been simply using it? " 

"Wait till you hear," excitedly pursued Brockie; " I thought 
he might say just what you have suggested, and after a moment 
decided to let the tool remain where I had found it. He came 
in a moment or two after and began work as cool as you like, 
and then I said out loud that I couldn't find my spokeshave. 
He took no notice, so I asked him point blank if he had seen 
it, or been using it. He said, '-No," as angry as possible, 
when I got as angry, and went to the bag and pulled it out be- 
fore his eyes ! " 

"And what did he say then?" 

"Say? The infernal rascal had the coolness to say that I 
had put it there myself, just to get him into trouble and turned 
out of the shop. Pretended to get red with fury, too, and 
called me all sorts of hard names, swearing like a trooper all 
the time." 

" Has he himself lost no tools ? " 

"He says he has, but we've only his word for that," said 
Brockie, with some acuteness. "Every one has lost some; 
but if the thief is in the shop, he could easily take some of his 
own with the rest." 



246 THE MISSING TOOLS. 

I sat pondering for a minute, and then said — 

" Perhaps you could leave out some good tools in a tempt- 
ing position to-night, and I will have the place watched in 
some way by my chum M'Sweeny. I would do it in person, 
but unfortunately I have to go through to Glasgow to-night, at 
eight o'clock." 

To this proposal Brockie agreed with the greatest alacrity; 
and then, after thanking me warmly, and expressing a convic- 
tion that the mystery would be speedily solved, now that we 
had resolved on a practical attempt on the spot, he took leave. 
I was really glad of the information he had tendered, and in 
hope that we were now on the track of the criminal, and ven- 
tured to express an opinion to that effect to M'Sweeny, while 
giving him directions how to proceed so as best to keep the 
watching of the workshops a secret from all but the principals 
of the firm. What was my surprise, then, when, a little after 
six o'clock the same evening, while getting some directions at 
the Central Office before leaving for Glasgow, a man excitedly 
called, asking to see a detective, " and M'Govan, in particular, 
if he was in the place." 

I had not above an hour to spare, so I was a little impatient 
at the request; but the feeling vanished, and was replaced by 
unbounded astonishment when he began to speak. 

" My name is Archibald Hooker, and I am a cabinetmaker 
by trade, employed at Wilson & Sons' place," he hotly ob- 
served. " I've been robbed of some of my best tools, and 

what's more, I think I know the rogue who has done it. 

Every one in the place has lost tools, and even the rascally 
thief who's taken mine pretends to have been robbed; indeed, 
I think you were told about the thefts some time ago." 

'•We were; but who is the rascally thief, as you are pleased 
to call him, who has done it ? " I eagerly inquired. 

"A jealous, mean-spirited hunk, called Jamie Brockie," he 
wrathfully answered, so furious and excited as to take no 
notice of my start and quickly upraised eyebrows. 

"Brockie? Brockie?" I faintly returned. "There is surely 
something very singular in this affair. Brockie? and why do 
you suspect him to be the thief? " 

" He's a cabinetmaker working at the bench next to mine, 
and the villain's jealous because I get the best work. I've said 
very little about losing my tools, because I've had my eye on 
him for months, hoping to catch him at it, and often searching 
his tool chest for my own things when he was out of the shop." 



THE MISSING TOOLS. 247 

"And did you get any of them ? " 

"No, I didn't. He was too fly for that; and do you know 
what the sly schemer had the audacity to do?" 

"No," I said, though I had a guess of what was coming. 

" He went and put an American spokeshave of his into my 
bag, then waited till a few shopmates were about and charged 
me with stealing it, after asking me, as a blind, if I hadn't seen 
it or been using it. I gave it him hot then, though I tried 
hard to keep my temper, so as not to put him on his guard, 
and to-night I put out some tools, nearly new, and of course 
marked with my name and number and private mark. They'll 
be gone when I go in in the morning — I'm certain they'll be 
gone — and then you must go to Mr Brockie's house and search 
for them. If you don't find that he's the thief, I'll eat my hat." 

I remained gravely silent for some moments, looking the 
man curiously in the face, and more puzzled than I would have 
cared to admit or explain. Evidently both passionate and 
quick-tempered, he mistook my silence for apathy or reluct- 
ance, and hotly added — 

"You look as if you didn't care for the job. Do you think 
that because he isn't a thief by profession, and doesn't need to 
be, that he can't steal?" 

" Not at all, only it would hardly do to follow your plan and 
search his house. Before that could be done we must get a 
warrant, and the warrant would scarcely be issued without 
better evidence than that which you have just advanced." 

" I knew it ! I knew it !" furiously responded Hooker. 
" You won't have anything to do with it; decline to interfere, 
and so on. I don't know what detectives are paid for — a parcel 
of blockheads! — idiots! — fools! Very well ! very well! I've 
told you where to look for the thief, and how to catch him 
tripping. I can do no more with you, but I can at least 
protect myself. I thought of another plan before, but didn't 
like to do it without seeing if you would help me. Now I wash 
my hands of the whole affair. I'll trust in lazy policemen or 
detectives no longer. They're best off who can help them- 
selves. Good night;" and he turned away and ran down the 
stairs. 

" Stop ! and listen to reason," I began, as he rapidly dis- 
appeared ; but he did not stop, and was evidently beyond 
listening to anything I could say, so the sentence was never 
finished. When he was fairly gone, I sat for a minute or two 
trying to decide whether his bluster and fury were real or 



248 THE MISSING TOOLS. 

affected to cover his guilt, and reluctantly I was forced to 
believe them real. If my supposition was correct, who then 
was the thief? It could not be the passionate Hooker, and 
still less, I thought, could it be the excited Brockie. After 
much thinking, 1 was inclined to believe the whole to be the 
work of some practical joker, who had guessed at the enmity 
of the two men, and wished to intensify it by having a little fun 
at their expense. 

The supposition was far wide of the truth, as I shall show, 
but it caused me to take no new action, but simply to allow 
M 'Sweeny to get into the building as had now been arranged, 
and report results in the morning. 

But Hooker's threat as he passionately left the Office had 
been no idle one. He had remembered that he had in his 
possession a common door key which opened one of the doors 
into the cabinet shop, and at first seriously thought of getting 
into the building in secret, and watching it through the whole 
night. He changed his plan, however, and it was fortunate 
for himself that he did so; though I will not say it was as 
fortunate for his substitute or for my chum, M'Sweeny. It 
happened that a relation of Hooker's, who was connected with 
the Glasgow detective staff, was in Edinburgh on a visit at the 
time; and with the idea of lending as official an air as possible 
to his proceedings, Hooker went straight to this friend and 
asked him as a favour to go and watch the place, and, if pos- 
sible, arrest the thief, a task which the other accepted with the 
greatest readiness. Of course this man, whom I shall call 
Sharpe, had no idea that another was appointed to watch the 
place, nor had M'Sweeny any expectation of meeting any of 
his western friends at such a time and place. At about nine 
o'clock, M'Sweeny got into a yard at the back of the cabinet 
workshops, in company with one of the sons of the proprietor, 
and with the aid of a ladder got into the workshop on the 
second flat, which he was most interested in watching, seeing 
that it was that in which both Brockie and Hooker worked by 
day. 

My chum was forced to this mode of obtaining ingress by 
the fact that there was only one set of keys to the building and 
yard, and these were kept by old Simpson, the gatekeeper and 
watchman of the place, who was considered half-cracked, and 
not the best hand at keeping a secret. The hour of nine, 
indeed, had been chosen purposely, as at that time old Simpson 
was known to be absent at a revival meeting, and M'Sweeny 



THE MISSING TOOLS. 249 

wished to be snugly hidden before he returned at ten o'clock 
to make his rounds, and see that all was safe and secure before 
retiring to rest. About half-an-hour later, an J when M'Sweeny 
was snugly buried in a heap of shavings, close to the bench at 
which Brockie worked, the Glasgow detecnve had let himself 
in by the side door, with the key supplied by Hooker, and 
so noiselessly that his presence in the building was not once 
suspected by M'Sweeny, though but a single flight of wooden 
steps lay between their hiding-places. 

A little after ten o'clock, a noise in the yard attracted 
M'Sweeny to the window of the workshop in which he lay hid- 
den, and looking down he saw old Simpson — who was lame and 
ugly, as well as imbecile — slowly limping about on his last tour 
of inspection. He did not occupy above ten minutes with the 
task, and did not come near M'Sweeny's hiding-place; but as 
he had to cross the yard in that direction as he was leaving for 
his own little house outside, M'Sweeny hurriedly left the 
window for his former hiding-place, with his usual cleverness 
knocking over a long plank of wood with a loud bang, and so 
grazing his own shin-bone that he was squirming in agony, and 
groaning forth curses in Irish Gaelic every inch of the way to 
his bunch of shavings. And now came a marvellous circum- 
stance, which instantly banished all thought from M'Sweeny's 
mind, and in its place left a thrilling and exultant delight. 
Scarcely had he concealed himself when there was a cautious 
and almost ghostly footfall on the wooden stair leading up to 
the workshop. It could not be old Simpson, he emphatically 
reasoned, for Simpson moved with a limp, and moreover he 
had heard the old watchman leave the place and lock the door 
after him. The cautious and guilty-like tread could mean but 
one thing — it was the mysterious thief! 

There was a little moonlight, but not enough to make every- 
thing clear; and M'Sweeny, as the footsteps paused at the 
landing, and the door was noiselessly pressed inwards, could 
see only the dim outline of a man, whose white face was 
turned eagerly towards himself and the plank of wood he had 
knocked down. After an eager and scared-like look around, 
the stealthy figure advanced softly over the shaving-strewn 
floor, and listened breathlessly. M'Sweeny in turn held his 
own breath, but at the same moment felt for his staff, as he 
now saw that the intruder carried in his hand a billet of wood 
as heavy as an Indian club. 

" He's a desperate character, 1 can see, and I'd give half- a- 



250 THE MISSING TOOLS. 

crown this minute to have Jamie beside me to assist in master- 
ing him," he thought. " Never mind; I'll have the more 
credit, and perhaps get a grant off the secret service money for 
risking me life. So here goes for a desperate struggle." 

The intruder paused in the centre of the workshop, and 
after a vain look on every side, said in a whisper, which, 
though low, revealed unmistakably the Glasgow accent — 

" I'm sure I heard somebody gaun across the floor, and a 
plank like that could hardly fa' itsel';" and turning his back 
upon M'Sweeny's hiding-place, the man fumbled under his 
coat for a dark lantern. 

"Sure, we might have known it was a Glasgow thafe," thought 
M'Sweeny, in self-reproach. "All the puzzling cases come 
from them. Begorra, they ought to keep them to themselves; 
we'd be a lot easier, and it'ud be something to sharpen their 
wits on." 

A flash of light streamed forth from the opened slide of the 
dark lantern and went slowly and steadily round the workshop, 
under the benches, and into every corner likely to conceal a 
man. 

" Faith, the villain's hauling out what's best to take away 
wid him," thought M'Sweeny, with a chuckle, as the light 
passed him. "Now he's at the wrong end of the place, and 
I'm betwixt him an' the door — now's my time! " 

Slipping out of the heap of shavings, and taking a liberal 
covering of them with him on his coat, head, and fiery whiskers, 
M'Sweeny suddenly flung his great arms about the i-.itruder, 
shouting out — 

"Now, ye murderin' Glasgow keelie! drop the lantern and 
give in, or, begorra, it'll be worse for ye!" 

The man sprang round with a shout, and did drop the 
lantern, which fell to the floor and fortunately was instantly 
extinguished, but, far from tamely submitting, he only throttled 
M'Sweeny with all the skill of an experienced garroter, crying 
in turn — 

" I thoncht I heard somebody in the place, and I've got ye 
at last! I dinna want to hurt ye, but if ye force me till't, of 
course I'm no responsible " 

A thundering thwack over the skull with M'Sweeny's baton 
stopped his mild and merciful reasoning, and made him release 
the neck of his prisoner and drop to the ground to grope about 
for his heavy billet of wood; and in an instant, without rising, 
he had brought this with all his strength across M'Sweeny's 



THE MISSING TOOLS. 251 



legs, effectually bringing Ireland to the ground and making the 
Scotch thistle once more raise its head in triumph. A vigor- 
ous exchange of yells, blows, and squirmings over the floor 
followed these clever feats, and on the whole the heavy billet 
Df the Glasgow man had the best of it. M 'Sweeny so felt its 
iveight on his back, and sides, and lower extremities, that at 
last he cast aside his own baton and closed with his assailant, 
intent only upon depriving him of the terrific weapon. What 
puzzled him most was that the man had made no attempt to 
escape — an opportunity for which, I suspect, M'Sweeny had 
more than once given him while groaning on the floor or 
gingerly feeling his bruises ; and perhaps a faint wonder of the 
same kind at length crossed the mind of the Glasgow man, for, 
during a pause to breathe, and while they were locked in each 
other's arms and hair, he hissed out — 

"Noo, ye Irish thief, as ye neither seem inclined to rin awa' 
nor bide in peace, let me tell ye I'll no be responsible for your 
life. I'll land ye in the Office, though I should hae to kill you 
in the attempt. A dead thief is just as gude to us as a living 
ane — a lot better, indeed; for he's past mischief, and needs 
nae meat." 

"That's just where I mean to land you," panted M'Sweeny, 
dexterously tugging back Sharpe by the hair, and nearly dis- 
locating his neck as he did so. " M'Sweeny, the great de- 
tective, has a reputation to keep up; and I'd die rather than let 
ye off!" 

A shout of dismay, and the sudden unclasping of the man's 
desperate grip, followed the speech; and M'Sweeny flattered 
himself that the magic of his name had been enough to bring 
one of the most desperate and daring of robbers in abject sub- 
mission to the ground. But an imprecation and groan of 
disappointment from the prostrate man damped the rising 
elation, and made him tremble with a fear that he had again 
distinguished himself only in pugnacious stupidity. 

" You M'Sweeny, and, like a fool, never let on ! " reproachfully 
groaned the other. " I'm a detective, too — Sharpe, from 
Glasgow — and was set to watch the place by my cousin, Archie 
Hooker, who has had a lot of his tools stolen." 

" The divil you was! " blankly answered M'Sweeny, feeling 
the pain of his bumps and bruises for the first time in all their 
appalling strength. " And I was set to watch Brockie's tools 
— them all, in fact; and instead of the thief we've only been 
beatin' each other. Ochone, how ever will I look Jamie in the 



252 THE MISSING TOOLS. 

face wid my head all done in plasters, and no thafe to show for 
it ! Faith, I've a good mind to take you wid me, and call ye a 
thafe, just to save my reputation! " 

" I was thinking o' takin' you," groaned the other, showing 
his little staff of authority, while M'Sweeny did the same. 
" Weel, I've got enough o' this wark; I'll awa' hame for some 
whisky, and bandages, and sticking-plaster." 

" We'll go together," sighed M'Sweeny, shaking the other 
by the hand with melancholy interest. "I've only had ten 
minutes of it, but sure I've got enough to last me a dacent 
lifetime. Come along, Sharpe; the less we say about this 
affair the better for both of us." 

Thus they consoled each other, and then got out of the 
building as quietly as possible, and led each other off through 
the deserted streets, leaving the cabinet workshops to take care 
of themselves. M'Sweeny had fully resolved to say as little as 
possible about the adventure to me, but the moment I sighted 
his battered face and bandaged arm, I exclaimed — - 

"What! have you been pitching into the wrong man as 
usual?" To which he dolefully replied — 

"No, Jamie, ye're wrong, as I'm sorry to say; 'twas the 
wrong man that was pitching into me. He did it well, too, 
though he's laid up wid his exertions and my own. But, sure, 
that would be a trifle, only this morning one of the men's been 
up again as mad as ever." 

"What! has the thief been at it again]" I exclaimed, in 
chagrin and surprise. 

"Faith has he, and tuck a good haul too," feebly returned 
M'Sweeny. " It must have been done after we left, and before 
six in the morning. We'll have to try something together; we 
always work best together." 

"Ugh, you blockhead!" 

"I wish I had been, for then I shouldn't have felt the wal- 
loping," dolefully returned my chum; and thus I left him to see 
after the case myself. 

I found that matters stood exactly as M'Sweeny had de- 
scribed them, another batch of tools being gone, and no thief 
visible or traceable high or low. I had a deal to listen to, and 
received innumerable suggestions from the men and old 
Simpson, and even from the principals of the firm, but merely 
heard them, and made no comment in return. I had resolved 
to manage things in my own way, and let no one know what 
my plan was. I could have got the use of Hooker's key to 



THE MISSING TOOLS. 253 



admit myself, but even him I resolved to keep in ignorance, 
the more so as I had noticed in the next yard the identical 
ladder by which M 'Sweeny had been admitted the night before. 
I got out to the place about eight o'clock, and watched from a 
safe place till old Simpson had gone to his revival meeting, 
when I got into the building by using the ladder; and after a 
search through every part, to make sure of no one being 
secreted in the place but myself, I arranged a hiding-place 
behind some planks, and settled myself to watch. 

A little after ten, old Simpson got back from his preaching 
and praying, and after a very diligent search through the dif- 
ferent places, he retired to his devotions. He had no more 
music in him than an old tin pan, yet I heard him singing 
away at a psalm with his harsh and horrible voice for nearly 
twenty minutes, composing the tune as he went along. The 
night was warm, and he had his window, which looked into 
the yard, open; and after the psalm he settled himself to read 
aloud a chapter of the Old Testament, in a voice as rasping 
and monotonous as his singing had been horrible. Shortly 
after this he shut the window, put out his light, and went to 
bed. Whether he really slept I do not know, but in less than 
three hours I was roused by his limping step on the stairs, and 
the fact that he was descending the stairs seemed to indicate 
that I at least had been asleep. I slipped down with my boots 
off, and plainly saw him bearing towards his own window, on 
the other side of the yard, a coarse bag such as carpenters keep 
nails in, filled with sundry articles, which he took out one by 
one and placed on a table inside the window. He then re- 
turned to the workshop, where I got back to my hiding-place, 
and plainly saw him pick up several tools from the different 
benches, till, after going round the place, his bag was again filled. 
This he did so often that my curiosity was powerfully excited. 

" He is surely taking an unusually large number," was my 
mental remark. " He can never expect them to pass over 
such a wholesale swoop in silence." 

But on his last visit a few muttered words of the old villain 
first puzzled me, and then, when I realised their true meaning, 
petrified me with a sudden thrilling alarm. 

"It'll be in the papers," were his muttered words, given 
with a chuckle hideous to behold, " and it'll say, ' several of the 
workmen have lost valuable chests of tools.' Hi, hi, hi ! it'll 
be funny to read it — very funny." 

While I had been meditating on the words thus imperfectly 



254 THE MISSING TOOLS. 



heard and dimly understood, he had vanished into his house, 
closed the window, and seemingly retired for the night. But 
scarcely five minutes had gone, when a peculiar vapour, rising 
about my hiding-place, and dimming the conflicting light of 
the approaching day and the waning moon, caused me to 
start forth with a .sudden blaze of enlightenment. 

" The place below is on fire ! the infernal old rogue has first 
stripped the benches, and then fired the place to hide the 
robbery," I cried; and then with a swift rush I made for the 
wooden stair, only to be driven back by a dense cloud of 
smoke rising from the workshop below. I tried that way no 
longer, but rushing to the window, got down bootless as I stood 
by the ladder to the next yard, in which I had two men in 
waiting, who instantly gave the alarm. A number of early 
workers passing at the time gave ready assistance; the gate of 
the place was burst in, and by terrible exertion the fiie was 
extinguished before it could spread farther than the shop in 
which it originated. One of the most diligent workers appar- 
ently — but who did more harm than good — was old Simpson; but 
when the confusion was over, I rather startled him by saying — ■ 

" I have been much interested in listening to you at your 
devotions, and should like much to see the interior of your 
little house." 

He gave me a curious and uncertain look, but led the way 
to his place, in which I was soon attracted by a large trunk 
near the window, which could scarcely be moved by one man, 
and which he hurriedly excused himself from opening on the 
ground that he had lost the key. I soon found the key for 
him, by simply requesting him to turn out his pockets; and 
when this was accomplished, I showed the astonished work- 
men, including Brockie and Hooker, who had arrived, that the 
chest was full of stolen tools, many of them of considerable 
value. Old Simpson then made a rambling statement about 
having a revelation from the Lord that the place was to go on 
fire, and that he had got up and put the tools there for safety; 
but the discovery of a letter from a Glasgow reset who had 
bought from him a previous lot, rather altered the complexion 
of his story. For robbery and fire-raising he afterwards was 
sentenced to seven years' penal servitude; yet his revival freak 
followed him to prison, and I believe that he there displayed 
great anxiety for the conversion of some of his fellow-prisoners. 
What a pity that we could not import a few more of his kind 
into the same establishment! 



AN OLD SCORE. 255 



AN OLD SCORE. 

Outside the big door of the Calton Jail, any morning but 
unday, there may be seen a queer group of loiterers. They 
begin to gather about ten o'clock — sometimes an hour earlier 
— and there they wait, or loaf, or slink about till about half- 
past ten, when the door opens to set free their friends or acquaint- 
ancefs whose terms expire at that hour. Many a time I have 
watched that scene from a safe point among the trees on the 
opposite slope, getting valuable hints as to who was the boon 
companion of some of my " bairns," and therefore likeliest to 
be involved with him in his next crime. 

The most casual observer could here distinguish the con- 
firmed criminal and jail-bird from the shrinking and shame- 
faced amateur or beginner, creeping out after his first sentence. 
The incorrigible comes out smiling and cool, and greets his 
companions as affably as if he had just returned from a tour 
through the Lakes ; the amateur looks as if he would rather 
endure a second sentence than run the gauntlet of those curious 
eyes. Of course there are others there who can scarcely be 
classed as criminals — wives waiting tenderly for the husbands 
who have battered their heads and blackened their eyes, and 
children waiting for their dreadful mothers — but in these I 
have a less direct interest. 

It wa^ while watching for a certain purpose this strange 
gathering that I first noticed particularly the boy whose case I 
am now giving. I had taken him when he was " wanted," but 
ne case was such a commonplace affair that I paid little atten- 
tion to the young criminal, and do not now remember what was 
his sentence — probably thirty days. Willie White was just four- 
teen, and did not look like a thief — having a frank, open look 
in his face — but a thief he certainly was. He had stolen both 
money and goods from his employer. The merchant had 
consulted us — had been told to mark some money, and the 
boy was neatly trapped with the marked coins in his pocket. 
It was a bad case, inasmuch as the boy had been greatly 



256 AN OLD SCORE. 



trusted, and was so strongly believed in by his parents thai 
they indignantly denounced the arrest as a cruel plot, till the 
trial came, and their eyes were opened. 

When the sentence was passed, the father— a feeble, consump- 
tive-looking man — rose from among the spectators, and, 
addressing the boy as he was being led from the bar, said — 

" Ance a thief, aye a thief. Never speak to me or look near 
me as long as ye live! I'm no your faith er now — mind that — 
I'm no your faither." 

" But I'm aye your mother, Willie!" cried a weeping woman 
at his side. " It was that scoundrel Stark that put it a' in the 
laddie's heid." 

That was all that passed as the boy was led out ; but the 
whole scene came back to my memory when the jail door 
opened and the boy stepped timidly forth into the sunshine. 
There he was, a branded felon, cast off by every one, and now 
thrown on the world to sink or swim as fate ordained. 

Just as I recognised him and recalled the scene at the Police 
Court, I saw Bob Stark step forward and lay a hand on the 
boy's arm. Stark was then a lad of eighteen or nineteen — a 
thief undoubtedly, but so cunning in all his operations that few 
convictions were ever scored against him. I had no doubf 
then that Stark, as the poor mother said, had a finger in 
the pie ; that familiar touch on the arm told the whole story. 
And it did more, for it pointed to the future, and told of the 
certain fate of the as yet almost unstained young life. It was 
almost a pity to let it go unchecked, and I was in the act of 
crossing the road to interpose a sharp warning, when a shabbily 
dressed woman, whom I recognised as the mother, elbowed 
her way to the boy's side and laid a hand on the opposite 
arm to that enclasped by the trainer of thieves. I paused 
then, and watched the scene which followed with deepest 
interest. 

The thief was evidently angry at the interruption, for his 
voice rose to an angry snarl ; the boy was evidently swayed 
powerfully, for he paused and held back from the tugging grasp 
of Stark. 

"You won't give him a lodging, or take him home?" cried 

the trainer of thieves. "Then what the do you want 

with him? I'm willing to give him a crib, and help him all 1 
can. Surely he knows which is best?" 

" You should have been in jail instead o' him," cried the 
mother, bitterly. 



AN OLD SCORE. isi 

" Ail a mistake," said Stark, with a course laugh. "Would 
you like him to sleep in the street at night, eh?" 

"Yes, in his grave, raither than he should gang wi' you," 
cried the excited mother, tightening her grasp upon the arm of 
the boy. "Speak oot, Willie — wasn't it that villain that egged 
ye on to a' that ye did ?" 

There was no reply from the boy, but his flushed cheek and 
downcast eye were a sufficient answer. 

"Come along, Willie; never mind her; they've cut you for 
good; so what's the use of listening to her?" and with this 
rough speech Stark dragged the boy away by sheer force, while, 
at the same moment, some of his acquaintances surrounded 
and began to jostle and abuse the poor mother. In a moment 
more I was through them, and had Stark wrenched round by 
the collar. The moment his eye fell on my face he let go the 
boy's arm and tried to smile pleasantly. 

"What's up now, Jamie? Gently! gently! don't tear my 
collar if ye can help." 

"Look you, Stark," I said with some excitement, "I've 
had my eye on you for a good while now, and when I do take 
you it won't be for a trifling thirty or sixty days you'll go in. 
What do you want with this boy?" 

" To mak' him a thief like himsel', Maister M'Govan," cried 
the poor mother, who had got rid of her tormentors as if by 
magic. "Oh, what for can ye no pit him in jail, where he'll 
no get at young laddies, to corrupt them and mak' them waui 
than himsel' ? " 

"It's a free country, I s'pose," sullenly answered Stark. 
" The lad can go where he likes. I am not forcing him. 
ami?" 

" And you boy — do you want to go with him and become a 
jail bird and an outcast for life?" I sharply pursued, address- 
ing the boy. 

"No, I don't," he answered with much resolution, and 
drawing himself up with the first firmness he had shown since 
quitting the prison. 

"Then, you walk ! " I cried to Stark — "walk ! this moment, 
or I'll take you now." 

He needed no second command, but dived off in the direc- 
tion of Low Calton, with a cringe and a forced smile. 

"Are you going to take him home with you?" I asked, as 
soon as the villain was gone. 

" I daurna," said the poor mother, with fresh tears. " His 
s.c. R 



iS B AN OLD SCORE. 

faither is awfu' strict, and winna hae him in the hoose again. 
He doesna ken I'm here or he wad never forgie me. Oh 
Willie ! I think I'll break my heart !" 

Such a passionate fit of weeping followed this wail that at 
last the boy said, with a quivering lip — 

"Ye needna greet sae sair, mother; I'll never gang wrang 
again." 

" Ye'll promise that before Mr M'Govan ?" eagerly exclaimed 
the mother, almost brightening through her tears. " Though 
he's a thief-catcher, he wishes ye naething but gude." 

" I'll promise it, and keep it," said the boy with quiet deter- 
mination ; and the mother took him in her arms, and there and 
then kissed him repeatedly. 

Then as his forlorn and homeless condition rose before her 
the tears returned, and she said — 

"But what will ye dae, my bairn, what will ye dae? I'll 
no be allooed even to speak to ye." 

" I'll gang away where I'm no kent — far away," said Willie, 
with a quivering lip. 

"And ye winna break yer promise?" 

" I'll,dee first!" he said; and I began to see that there was 
more manly stuff in him than I had imagined. 

During the whole interview he had not once let fall a word 
blaming Stark or implicating him in his fall — perhaps it was a 
boyish promise or mistaken idea of honour that sealed his lips 
■ — but that the subject was not absent from his mind will 
appear before I have done with his case. 

On getting his emphatic promise, the mother brought out a 
little bundle from under her shawl, containing his Sunday jacket, 
an extra shirt, and a pair of stockings, all of which she had man- 
aged to smuggle out of the house without his father's knowledge. 

" I'll maybe never see you again, Willie," she said, not 
attempting to stem the flow of tears. "Your faither is sair 
against ye, and unless he changes we may never meet mair ; 
but ye'll aye mind that I did a' I could for ye." 

" Yes, mother, I'll aye mind that," was the boy's husky 
answer as he took the little bundle. 

Then the poor woman brought out a shabby little purse, and 
emptying its contents — only a few shillings — into her hand, 
she pressed them into his pocket, saying — 

"Every penny o't is hard wrought for, Willie. I've had 
mony a sair stint to save it, wi' your sick faither to keep, and 
no that muckle wark to be had; so ye'll no waste it ?'* 



AN OLD SCORE. 259 

The boy promised to obey, and in a short time they parted. 

What could there be but tearful and bitter regrets at such a 
parting ? When the poor mother asked him if he would ever 
write to her, or come and see her, the boy's mouth became 
pursed in, and he said — 

"No while my faither's living-'' 

The house was evidently diviued, and the boy keenly sensible 
that he alone was the cause of the division. 

Willie had stated his intention of going to sea. He was a 
smart, well-built lad for his age, and had no doubt but some 
master would be glad to get him as an apprentice, and not ask 
too particularly after his parents and antecedents. 

And sanguine as were his hopes, they might have been 
fulfilled to the letter, but for one circumstance. He wandered 
down to Leith, and actually did find the master of a sloop 
trading between Leith and St Petersburg, who wanted a smart 
lad, and appeared pleased with his answers and appearance — 
more especially with his frank admission that he had quarrelled 
with his father and left home for ever. But the man would 
not, or could not, give him a definite answer till the next day; 
and Willie was forced to be content, and spent the rest of the 
day in wandering through the harbour and along the shore, 
gazing at the rolling sea, and wondering if he should ever be 
spared to return from its boundless wastes. During one oi 
these aimless strolls, he was startled to find his evil acquaint- 
ance, Bob Stark, loitering in his wake. He at once put on a 
spurt to get away from him, but Bob was not to be so easily 
shaken off. He easily gained the boy's side, and renewed 
importunities, promising him a comfortable home and nothing 
particular to do, if he would only be guided by him ; and it 
was only after a hot argument, and a plain threat that if Stark 
did not leave him, he would hand him over to the police and 
reveal all, that he at last shook him off. 

The month was August ; and with a view to economy, Willie 
had resolved to pass the night in the streets, or at least in the 
open air. At a late hour, therefore, he was slowly wandering 
through one of the narrow streets, when a sudden blow on the 
temple landed him almost senseless on the pavement. At the 
same moment he was all but strangled from behind, and then 
as swiftly stripped of his bundle, jacket, and cap, and the few 
shillings he possessed, then treated to a few savage parting 
kicks and blows, and left bleeding on the ground. 

No one witnessed the vicious assault and robbery, and 



260 AN OLD SCORE. 



Willie got leave to recover at leisure, for not a soul looked 
near. When he was able to sit up and collect his thoughts, he 
was in a sorry plight. One of his eyes was already so swollen 
that he could not open it ; his face was cut and bleeding, his 
body one aching mass, and his clothes gone, all but his waist- 
coat and trousers. Stupified as he was, however, with the 
brutal treatment, he had sense enough to reason out the whole 
affair, and attribute the robbery to the real source. 

" Bob Stark has arranged it out of spite — very likely it was 
him that gripped me behind; and now I'm more vagabond-like 
than ever. Naebody would think of having onything to do wi' 
me now. Who would look at me wi' a black e'e?" 

Willie should have reported the robbery to the police, but he 
did not. He could not bear to be brought out of the obscurity 
he courted, and show himself in his sad plight to many who 
would know him, and perhaps only despise him, and say he 
should keep better company. 

" I'll mark it down as a score against Stark, and maybe pay 
him off some day," he resolved, in his slow quiet fashion. 
•' He has done it, thinking I'd go to him in my strait and give 
in to all he wants, but he doesn't know me yet. I'm glad he's 
done this ; it shows what he's fit for." 

His only concern now was to get away as far as possible from 
the place where he was known, and might be at any moment 
recognised in his deplorable condition. He therefore gathered 
himself together and slowly crawled out of the town in a 
westerly direction. His thoughts were bitter enough, but on 
no one did he heap so much abuse as on himself. He had 
such a disreputable look, with his blackened eye, cut face, and 
shirt sleeves, that even the ordinary tramps and beggars on the 
road shunned him. How he progressed along the road, or 
whither he wandered, he could never afterwards tell, but he 
was found senseless and all but dead in a dry ditch at the road- 
side, near Grangemouth. A farm cart picked him up, and he 
was lodged in a barn among straw till the county police could 
be sent for, and he should be taken to the poorhouse. It was 
then decided that he was too ill to be removed, and for long 
days he saw nobody but a kindly farm hind, who brought him, 
morning and night, a jug of new milk as soon as she had milked 
the cows. He recovered sooner than they had expected ; and 
it being harvest time, he begged to be allowed to stay and 
work in the fields a little to pay them back for their kindness. 
He was nearly six weeks working in the fields, at the end of 



AN OLD SCORE. 261 

which time the farmer not only gave him a jacket, but a few 
shillings as well, and, what was far dearer to the outcast, a 
few words of hearty commendation and good wishes for his 
future. 

At Grangemouth Willie, who still had the idea that the sea 
alone would wash away his prison stain, easily got employment 
on a coal sloop. The work was both sooty and severe, as he 
found that he had been taken on in place of an able-bodied 
man, but it proved a step to better things, for after a fearful 
winter, which he thought he would never live through, he was 
accepted as apprentice on board a Newcastle trader, and with 
this vessel he remained until he was an articled seaman. He 
then drifted all over the world almost, never forgetting the 
bitter lesson taught him by the Calton Jail, but in all his 
wanderings he never came near Edinburgh. Strange to say, 
it was the place which was oftenest in his thoughts, yet furthest 
from his intentions. 

'• If I could be sure he is dead I'd go at once," he often said 
to himself, thinking of his father's stern face as last seen in the 
Police Court. " Mother always stuck by me, but he never 
could forgive a fault. Dear me, he might think that I was 
only a boy then, and it was my very simplicity and innocence 
made me an easy victim." 

When he had been away for nine years, the constantly recur- 
ring thought insensibly prompted him to a journey to " Auld 
Reekie." 

" I don't need to go near them," was his consoling thought ; 
"I can just have a look round me at the familiar streets and 
closes, and maybe hear something about them, and come away 
again." 

When he came to stride through the city, a full-grown 
bearded man, he found the places as much changed as him- 
self. Old streets were cut away, and great new blocks of glar- 
ing white stone occupied their place; the shops were occupied 
by new tenants; the very faces on the street seemed all new 
and strange. After Willie had realised che changed aspect 
with something like a sigh, he found himself, after circling ami 
circling, insensibly drawing nearer to a certain court in 
Buccleuch Street. 

" I might hear something about them, at least," was his 
thought, which somehow set his heart thumping against his 
side in a tremor, such as he had never felt in the most awtul 
danger at sea. He passed through St Patrick Square and 



262 AN OLD SCORE. 



Buccleuch Pend, and was moving along Buccleuch Street, 
when he chanced to notice an old man coming slowly in his 
direction, leaning on a stick and coughing painfully. The old 
man's hair was grey almost to whiteness, and he was evidently 
in bad health, and merely taking an airing on the sunny side 
of the street, at the warmest part of the day. It was not the 
face, nor the whitened hair, which were certainly strange to 
him, that attracted Willie's attention, so much as a flash of the 
old man's eye as they passed each other. 

"Surely — surely that's my faither," said the young seaman, 
with a fast-beating heart, and eyes suddenly growing misty. 
"Maybe he saw me and doesn't want to speak to me." 

Along the street a bit, Willie paused and looked back, and 
saw the old man pass into the old familiar court. 

" I believe it's my faither," said Willie, with the word almost 
choking him. 

A child stood at the mouth of the court, and the old man 
before passing in had patted it on the head, and spoken a word 
or two. In a moment or two more Willie stood beside the 
child, pointing in at the vanishing form of the old man. 

" Who's that, my lassie?" he said, with forced calmness. 

" Mr White," was the shy answer. 

" Is he ill ? " 

" No, it's the mason's trouble," said the girl, evidently think- 
ing that was nothing. 

" Is that it? " vacantly echoed the sailor. 

" That's it — and a broken heart," said the girl, getting ready 
her skipping-ropes. 

"What's a broken heart?" huskily asked the sailor. 

" I dinna ken ; but that's it," said the girl, dogmatically. 

" Doesn't — doesn't somebody live with him, to look after 
him, and all that ? " hoarsely continued the inquirer. 

" No," said the girl, in a careless tone, that stabbed him 
through; "naebody but Mrs White. She washes, ye ken." 

" Oh, I see;" and in his intense relief Willie put a sixpence 
into the girl's hand for "sweeties." "Is she in now?" 

" No, no, she's oot long ago working — she winna be back till 
long after I'm in bed." 

Willie turned away, and left the spot with feelings which can- 
not be described, simply because he never afterwards could 
recall them. He began to sicken of Edinburgh and long for 
the broad sea, and rocking ship, and the dusky faces and 
broiling sun of far-off lands. His father had looked him full 



AN OLD SCORE. 263 

in the face and passed him, so it was evident that he meant tc 
keep up the feud, and maintain the estrangement to the end. 

Willie forgot that he himself was as greatly changed in ap- 
pearance as his father, and that a tall, bearded man of twenty- 
three is very different from a boy of fourteen. Possibly he 
would have left the city not many hours after the visit to Buc- 
cleuch Street, but again his destiny was to be influenced by the 
stumbling-block of his life. In passing up the High Street 
about dusk, he saw a brutalised-looking man lounging at the 
mouth of a close, whom he instantly recognised as Bob Stark. 
Years had made little change on him. His clean-shaven face 
was a little more bloated, his bull neck a little more apoplectic, 
and his gait a little more shambling, but otherwise he was 
pretty much the same scoundrel as when last Willie had seen 
him. The change on Willie, on the other hand, had not only 
been marked, but all for the better. He was nearly six feet 
high, and strong as a lion with buffeting wind and wave. 
More, he felt his power, and with the first glance at Bob Stark 
clenched his heavy hand and muttered — 

" Well, I'd like to have just one blow at his head — straight 
between the eyes, as hard and heavy as I could drive it in. 
I'm just in the mood for it, but I s'pose they'd call it assault, 
and cry for the police and have me locked up." 

During the momentary pause of the smartly dressed sailor, 
the evil eye of Stark — who was now a tout of the very worst 
description — caught his own, and he made a step forward. 

Then the seaman made some rambling inquiry about a 
public-house, and Stark instantly volunteered to be his friend 
and guide through all the dangers of Edinburgh, whose terrible 
gaping mouths were wide open to swallow helpless sailors like 
himself. This generous ofter prompted the young seaman to 
his next action, which was to assume the role of a careless, 
happy-go-lucky seaman, who had already drunk a great deal 
more than he waa freighted to carry. 

" I hope he'll get cross, so that I can have just one tap a t 
his skull to pay off that old score," was Willie's thought; and 
full of this idea he tottered from public-house to public-house, 
treating Stark liberally, but being careful himself to swallow 
little or none of the drink he ordered. At length, when the 
sailor appeared in beautiful condition for business, and the 
thick gold chain hanging so carelessly at his waistcoat-pocket 
with the watch attached to it, and a well-lined purse as well, 
seemed to Stark already his own, the thieves' tout proposed \r 



264 AX OLD SCOJ?£. 

him to go "home." Whether it was the suggestive word or 
his long pent-up anger, Willie nearly betrayed himself by the 
alacrity with which he started up to obey. They staggered 
out of the public-house, Willie leaning heavily on the arm of 
his companion, and appearing so flabby and flexible about the 
knees as to call forth many a brilliant witticism from his de- 
lighted guide. They were passing thus down the High Street 
in great apparent glee and merriness, when a poorly clad 
woman hurrying past caught sight of the crime-stained features 
of Stark by the light of a street lamp, and paused in pity. 

" Take care, my man — ye dinna ken the character you're wi\" 
she suddenly exclaimed to the sailor, heedless of the scowls 
and muttered oaths of Stark. "Dinna gang wi' that villain if 
ye value your life or your money." 

Fearful of losing his prey, Stark, who had just signalled to a 
companion, broke out into an unmusical rendering of a popular 
song, and tried to hurry Willie into one of the dark closes a 
little above Hunter Square. Willie could scarcely bring him- 
self to scout at such bravery and kindness as that of the poor 
woman, but his plan demanded it, and he merely turned with 
a drunken leer, and told her he was quite able to take care of 
himself, and that his companion was an old friend. 

'• Freend?" cried the poor woman, with sudden excitement. 
'• I ken something aboot your freend. He robbit me o' my 
only laddie — my only bairn ! I only wish there was a police- 
man here, and he would tell ye " 

While she continued speaking, Stark hurried him into the 
close, and then, noticing the horrible place for the first time, 
it struck Willie that it was possible to venture too far, and he 
hung back in demur. 

" Why — mate — what infernal hole is this you're taking me 
into ? " he said, trying to hold back. 

"It's just the entrance — it's a nice place when you're in," 
said Stark excitedly. " Come along — come along! " 

They were half-way down the close, and standing at the 
entrance to a deep dark stair, and Willie stood like a rock. 

"Not a bit further," he said, with a firmness which instantly 
prompted Stark to action. Placing his bent finger in his 
mouth, he emitted a shrill whistle to his companion slowly fol- 
lowing, and at the same moment made a quick snatch at the 
sailor's watch and chain. The signal was promptly answered 
by a rush of feet, and a quick clutching at Willie's throat by a 
ganoting arm; but then there came a change; for lo ! the 



AN OLD SCORE. 265 

drunk man was drunk no longer, and lifted his right foot a.,d 
sent back his iron-shod heel on the shin-bone of the garroter 
with a force that snapped it like a pipe-shank. As the gar- 
roter dropped with a howl of agony, Willie's clenched fist flew 
out at Stark's face with all the force of a nine years' well-nursed 
wrong. For a moment Stark's nose and eyes seemed to be 
mixed up in a terrific explosion, and then he was just conscious 
and no more of being lifted up by the throat off the slimy 
close, along with his broken-legged companion, and then felt a 
second explosion as the sailor brought their heads together 
like hollow-sounding cocoa-nuts, with all the force of his brawny 
arms. And not one explosion, but many followed, the sailor 
dragging both his prisoners up the close as he rattled their 
skulls together, heedless, in the excitement of the moment, 01 
the shower of blows being rained on him by some evil-looking 
friends of his prisoners, who had swarmed from their dens at 
the frightful outcry. The busy assailants would actually have 
got the two miserable men free by sheer force, had it not been 
for the arrival of a couple of policemen, who had been warned 
farther down the street of what was likely to happen; and the 
moment these appeared the crowd vanished as by magic. 

" I tellt ye what he was," said the poor woman who had 
brought the timely help, "but ye wadna believe me." 

" I did believe you," said Willie, shaking her warmly by the 
hand; "but, you see, I had an old score to pay off, and I 
couldn't stop to put you right." 

Both prisoners were now all but senseless, and one of them 
howled so horribly at every movement that he had to be carried 
to the Office. The woman being an important witness, went 
with them; and the gold chain, dangling in two pieces at 
Willie's breast, told only too plainly what the case was. 

Stark's face was so much damaged and swollen that none in the 
Office recognised him ; but, to the surprise of all, the sailor said — 

" His name is Bob Stark. I knew him nine years ago, when 
he made me a thief, and I wanted to pay off the score; but I 
never thought he'd give me such a beautiful chance. I'm quite 
satisfied." 

"And your name?" I said, without the slightest recollection 
of the case. 

" Willie White." 

A great scream interrupted the recording of the name, for 
the poor woman had pressed suddenly forward, and now stood 
gazing into the frank face and clear eyes of the sailor. 



266 AN OLD SCORE. 



"Willie White! Willie White!" she excitedly cried. "The 
same name and the same time — and the face is like my laddie's, 
only manlier and bonnier " 

It was now the sailor's turn to start and grow pale, as he 
tremulously bent forward to scan the worn and pinched face of 
the shabbily clad woman. 

" It's my mother! " he said at last, with a great heaving sob; 
and then she was swooped up bodily in his strong arms, and 
kissed and wept over to her heart's content, while we pre- 
tended to be busy with the books, and with messages to the 
medical inspector to come and inspect the prisoners' injuries. 
One of these injuries being a broken leg, had to be treated as 
such, but Stark's concussions on the brain and face required 
only time. A few weeks after, at the Justiciary Court, I had 
the most intense satisfaction in seeing him get the benefit of a 
scare against garroters which at that time existed in the town 
in a sentence of seven years, the first decent conviction we had 
ever scored against him. His companion got the same as soon 
as his leg had mended. 

Willie got a royal and loving reception from his father, 
instead of the repulse he had looked for, and many declared 
that the old man took a fresh lease of health from that hour. 
They left Edinburgh together shortly after, and so I lost sight 
of them ; but I have no doubt that Willie is still nobly working 
for them, and remembering that he owes the happiness to the 
paying off of an old score. 



AN" EXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTION. 267 



AN EXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTION. 

Many of my readers may remember a shabbily-dressed man, 
in snuff-brown coat and spectacles, who used to stroll in by 
Newington nearly every forenoon at the sunny part of the day. 
He was a seedy-looking customer, who snuffed a deal, and did 
not keep his face and hands over clean, and used to spend most 
of his time during this daily stroll in hanging about second-hand 
bookstalls and brokers' shops. 

Theophilus Brownings was the brother of an Edinburgh 
merchant owning one of those large, old-fashioned houses in 
a side street off Newington. The old man was a great scholar, 
but as he had been a dreamer all his days, he had never 
developed to anything, and was now a kind of harmless pen- 
sioner in the house of his aforesaid. He had an allowance of 
^50 a-year from his brother; but as he spent every penny of 
it on books and curiosities, his clothes remained seedy and 
unchanged for years. I daresay Philip Brownings lost nothing 
by making this allowance to his eccentric brother, for the 
articles so picked up would probably be worth a great deal 
more when they were sold as a collection. However, that has 
little to do with the remarkable case in which the doited-look- 
ing old book-worm played the hero, and which I am about to 
recall. 

Regularly as the holiday season came round, Philip Brown- 
ings and his family went off to the Highlands or seaside for a 
couple of months, taking the servants with them, and leaving 
the great place in charge of this old man. They would gladly 
have taken him with them, but he could never be persuaded to 
leave Edinburgh even for a single night. Edinburgh and its 
bookstalls and brokers' shops was his life — his world — and to 
deprive him of that would have been to destroy his happiness. 
This arrangement proved very satisfactory for many years, for 
the plate and valuables never needed removal to a bank, and, 
the house being never empty, was less liable to attract 
thieves. 



«58 AN EXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTION. 

It chanced, however, that in an evil moment, during one July, 
the house fell under the evil eye of one of my "bairns," named 
William Pike. Pike was not a trained or professional thief; 
he was only a brutalised and cowardly labourer, who was so 
eaten up with laziness and love of drink that he had taken to 
the life as the handiest at the moment. Whether this was hii 
real name or not I never knew, but I remember well that it was 
never — even by his intimate associates — contracted to Will, or 
Wiliie — he always got William in full. 

Pike noticed the house, and its size, and promising look; but 
as it was enclosed in a high wall he could not get quite near 
enough to decide upon the easiest way of getting inside. He 
discovered, however, that the family were absent, and that no 
one looked after the place but an old and stupic-lcoking man. 
If Pike had had a companion in crime, he would probably have 
arranged for a burglary in the usual way, but he worked alone, 
with such assistance as his wife might give, and disliked danger, 
hard work, or trouble of any kind, and so was thrown back on 
his native cunning for a better plan. The windows were all 
shuttered and secured, with the exception of one of the attics 
far beyond his reach, which was occupied by the old book- worm; 
and the doors were probably as safely guarded. All this meant 
hard work for the housebreaker, and tools of the handling of 
which William knew nothing ; added to which was the fact 
that the old man was never out of the house at night, and the 
robbery could not safely be attempted by day. 

" If it had been the dark nights now, and he was late of get- 
ting back, how easy it would be for me to rush on him just as 
he gets the garden-door open, knock in his head with a neddy, 
and then take the keys and go through the place comfortable?" 
reflected the benevolent William. wt Nobody would notice any- 
thing in this quiet place, and it would all be inside the door ; 
but it's no use thinking of it, for if it was winter the place wouldn't 
be empty." 

William took to following the old man, and was often sorely 
tempted in doing so. It was the custom of Brownings, after 
locking the garden-gate, to keep the key o\ that door on his 
finger during the whole of his walk — that is, with the fore finger 
of the left hand thrust through the ring of the key, and the 
barrel lying in the palm of his closed hand. 

" A good grab at it when he's looking at some o' them old 
books would do the trick," William often greedily reflected ; 
but then the " good grab " was just what he lacked courage to 



AN EXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTION 269 

make, though he was in hope that the actual door of the house 
might be left either open or simply on the latch. 

Had William been certain as to how or where the old man 
carried the actual keys of the house, he would have employed 
some of his distinguished acquaintances to pick his pocket ; 
but though he watched the unconscious "plant" well and 
narrowly, he never could get at that knowledge. 

" If I could get in tow with the old bloke and make him 
drunk, that would be the plan," he feverishly thought one fore- 
noon, after following him over the half of the city; "but he 
hardly ever drinks, and might be suspicious. Wait ! by gum ! I 
think I have it ; that would be the plan, and he'd jump at the 
bait like winking." 

William's new inspiration did not take long to develop and 
arrange ; and the next day he managed to get into conversation 
with Brownings at one of the bookstalls. 

" I wouldn't give a shilling for the whole lot," he said, 
with a commendable contempt for fustiness and age, in allusion 
to the books on the stall ; " in fact, sir, I've got a whole room 
down at my place choke full of old books, and swords, and nick- 
nacks, hundreds of years old, and as mouldy as old cheese, and I'd 
give the lot to anybody for five shillings, just to get rid of them." 

" Old books, you say ? hundreds of years old ?" cried the old 
man with roused interest. " I should like to see them." 

" Tuts, they're not worth looking at," said William, with great 
modesty. " The print is mostly the old-fashioned kind, and 
lots of them are in Latin, and other foreign languages." 

" That's nothing to me — I can read them," said Brownings, 
with whetted interest. " Where is your place ? couldn't we go 
there now?" 

" It's away down in the Cowgate," said William, in apparent 
demur, " a good bit from here, but I don't think you'd give 
twopence for them all." 

Brownings nevertheless declared that he would give more if 
they were what he expected, and said with truth that the Cow- 
gate was only a "five minutes' walk" from where they stood, 
and that the whole visit would not occupy half-an-hour, a calcu- 
lation regarding which William had an opinion of his own. 

With affected reluctance the thief yielded, and led the way 
down to his den in the Cowgate — a little cellar of two places 
up one of the slimiest and darkest closes. Brownings hesitated 
for a moment at the close mouth, and said somewhat suspici- 
ously — 



27o AN EXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTION. 

" I thought it was a broker's shop you kept ? " 

"Get away with you! do you think I'd give you them so 
cheap if I was a broker ? " said the generous William Pike ; and 
so they proceeded up the close and down some steps into William's 
den, in which they were graciously received by Pike's wife, who 
hastened to dust a chair and bring out a bottle and glasses to 
entertain the gentleman visitor. 

Brownings hastily demurred, saying he had come to look at 
the books, and not to drink ; but this statement was received 
by such a warm protest, that he at length allowed the big woman 
to set down two delf cups by way of glasses— into one of which 
she had previously dropped fifty drops of laudanum — and then, 
with much ostentation, to pour into each a good glassful of 
whisky. 

The cups were handed to her husband and the visitor by this 
fair enchantress of twenty stone — she taking care that the 
drugged cup went to the gentleman with the door-key so 
temptingly dangling at his finger. 

Brownings, in haste to get the thing over, hastily gulped 
down the liquor without noticing the taste particularly, and 
then asked to see the books and antiquities. But it did not 
suit William to comply very hastily with the demand, from the 
simple fact that he had none to show. He therefore professed 
to be dying for a smoke, and apologised for gratifying the wish 
before hastening to drag out the " old rubbish " from the cellar 
at the back — a place built against the slope of the hill, and 
therefore both damp and windowless. William's smoke lasted 
so long that his visitor began to get drowsy, and could hardly 
see when Pike at length led the way to the back-room, with a 
lighted candle in his hand. Once inside this room, in which 
were a bed and some rotten old chairs, he told his stupified 
victim to seat himself, while he brought out the things; and 
then he pretended to fumble under the bed in the darkness for 
what was not there. He was still searching when the old man 
fell asleep where he sat; and then the thief and his wife tossed 
him on the bed, and deftly searched his pockets for the keys 
of the house, after taking that of the garden-door from his 
nerveless finger. William and his wife cursed not a little as 
they did so, for not a trace of keys was to be foui.d. There 
was the garden-door key, and a shabby purse containing a few 
shillings, but nothing more. All this was awkward, as it upset 
William's arrangement to go out to the house as soon as it was 
dark, and while the old man slept, strip it of all that was valu- 



AN EXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTION. 271 

able, return the keys to the pocket of the drugged man, and 
leave him lying in some far-off spot to wake at his leisure. 
There was still hope, however ; and as soon as it was dark Pike 
got out to the house, unlocked the garden-gate, and tried the 
doors of the house, only to find that they were far too securely 
fastened for him to hope to force them. He now had it in his 
power to do two things — to give up the attempt, or to try a 
more daring crime; and I need not say that his choice fell on 
the latter alternative. This is the invariable course which all 
crime runs, from petty thieving to murder and the gallows. 
Pike returned to his den to find that his victim still slept; but 
while he was fiercely taking supper, and planning his new 
crime, there was a kicking at the door of the inner cellar to 
intimate that the prisoner had awakened. Pike took down a 
heavy bludgeon, and unlocked the inner door himself; coolly 
stepping into the dark hole, candle in hand, and locking the 
door after him. 

"Well; what do you want?" he said at last. 

" I've been asleep, and I want out," was the simple reply. 
" Why did you lock the door? " 

"To keep you in," answered Pike, insolently, no longei 
keeping on the mask. 

"Take care what you say, sir, or I'll have the police to you," 
cried the old man, after an interval of thought. 

" Will you! How will you get them to hear you? " 

There was a horrified pause, during which the old man 
evidently reviewed his situation, and did not like the prospect, 
for he sat down trembling and pale on the edge of the bed, 
and stared helplessly at his jailor. 

" Do you mean to say you have trapped me, and mean to 
keep me here against my will ? " he faintly ejaculated. 

" No, no ; trapped is a hard word. You came here of your 
own accord, didn't you?" 

"Yes; and now I want to leave, for I neither like you nor 
the hole you live in." 

"Ah, but I want something from you first." 

"What?" 

" The keys of the house you live in." 

The old man remained silent for some time, staring at his 
brutal jailor with a sinking heart, and realising his position for 
the first time. The whole had been a carefully prepared plot, 
and the robbery of his brother's house was the object. 

" I haven't them," he faintly responded, when he found voice. 



272 AN EXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTION. 

" I know that, for I've looked your pockets," coolly returned 
Pike; " but you know where they are — where you put them 
after you came out of the house and locked the door." 

The old man was silent. By an arrangement with his 
brother, who had a duplicate key of the garden-door, and 
sometimes visited the house at intervals, during the holidays, 
the actual keys of the house were left hanging under a clump 
of ivy near the garden-door, that he might be able to enter the 
house at any time, even if his brother were absent. It was not 
likely, however, that the man who had trapped him would 
dream of looking for them there, and the moment's thought 
gave him courage and hope. 

"You surely do not imagine for a moment that I will help 
you to commit a robbery? " he at last exclaimed. "I would 
die sooner than do that to my own brother." 

" I hope not, for I mean to try you," said Pike, darkly. 
" Now, look here. You see you're in my power, and can't get 
a soul to come near you. You might shout yourself blind and 
no one would hear you; though I may tell you that the 
minute you try that game on I mean to let you have this on 
your nob, as heavy as I can lay it on;" and he slowly and sug- 
gestively waved the bludgeon within an inch of the old man's 
nose. " Of course, I can break into the place if I've a mind 
to, while I have you safe here under lock and key, but I don't 
want to damage the door and windows, or make a noise, or 
have any fuss about it. Just you say quietly where the keys 
is, or it'll be worse for you — death, for all that I know." 

"I'll soon be missed and sought for!" said the old man, 
with more resolution than he felt. "You may do what you 
please, I shall not say where the keys are." 

" Then we'll keep you here till you rot," savagely returned 
Pike. "And very likely we'll break into the place all the 
same. It was only to save trouble that I thought I'd give you 
the chance to give us the keys. When they find the house 
robbed and open, and you missing, of course they'll say you 
done it, and as long as they live they'll look on you as an old 
thief and swindler." 

"And what would they call me if I helped you to the keys?" 
scathingly retorted the old man. 

Pike was not good at reply, so he made no answer but to 
leave the hole and lock the door after him. There was no 
window or fireplace in the damp and frousy den, and Pike 
took the light with him. so poor old Mr Brownings was 



AN EXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTION. 273 

left in a darkness that might almost have been cut with a 
knife. 

The situation was horrible and depressing, but solitude and 
darkness with some develop reflection. Mr Brownings was 
not deficient in quickness and intelligence, though his retired 
life had made him scarcely fit to rub shoulders with the active 
and work-a-day world, and all his thoughts and energies were 
now turned on one question — How could he circumvent and 
outwit the villain who had played him such a dastardly trick? 
In a contest of cunning the man of education in the long run 
has generally the best of it. Mr Brownings thought of dozens 
of plans before morning, and at last resolved to try one of them, 
the ingenuity of which alone has induced me to recall the 
case. 

When Pike entered the den next morning with an apology 
for a breakfast in his hands, he found his prisoner lying on the 
bed listless and pallid, and evidently agreeing badly with the 
confinement and "change of air." 

"You don't look so smart this morning," he said with ex- 
ultation; " are you going to say where them keys is and have 
done with it? " 

"No, I am not well; I hope I'll die," feebly returned the 
prisoner. 

" Wouldn't you like me to bring you a first-rate doctor to 
feel your poultice and set you up again?" said Pike, with 
brutal humour. 

To this the old man made no answer, and Pike soon tiring 
of the silence of his victim, retired. In the afternoon, however, 
on revisiting the den, he found the breakfast untouched, and 
the old man still lying on the bed with drooping eyes and 
pallid aspect, and began to get alarmed. 

" You can have a drop of drink, if you like," he suggested, 
that being his universal medicine for all ailments. 

"No; that would kill me," said the old man with a shudder. 
" Go away and let me die. The medicine I want you cannot 

t." 

" Don't know about that. I'll get my wife to bring you a 
pennyworth of anything from the doctor's shop if you give it a 
name," said Pike in sudden generosity. 

" That would not do; what I need is an expensive prescrip- 
tion; and I'm not sure if they would give it without a doctor's 
line," said the old man. 

" Write it down on a bit of paper, and promise to tell me 
s. c s 



o 



274 AN EXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTION. 

where the keys is hid, and I'll try," said Pike; and to this pro- 
posal the old man, with feigned reluctance, at last agreed. 

Raising himself in bed, he took the scrap of paper and a 
pencil placed before him by Pike, and heading it with the 
usual cabalistic R, wrote down, in Latin, a message, of which 
the following is a free translation : — 

"I am a prisoner in a den off the Cowgate; for heaven's sake get the 
assistance of the law, and have the bearer followed and me set free. The 
man who trapped me means to rob my brother's house at the south side of 
the city.." 

The old man would have put down more, but he was afraid 
of rousing the suspicions of the watchful Mr Pike, by making 
the thing look too much like a letter. The more effectually 
to carry out the deception, he had arranged the message in 
separate lines, with figures representing imaginary grains, 
scruples, and drams at the end of each. The whole he signed 
with his initials only, " T. B.," trusting to good fortune, or the 
activity of the police, to do the rest. 

Pike could read pretty fluently, and he grimly took the 
strange prescription in his hand and gravely tried to spell it 
through. 

"What in the mischief is all this;" he cried at last. "I 
can't read the half of it ? " 

" I daresay; there are words and names that only a chemist 
can understand. They've a language of their own, you know," 
said the old man, with affected indifference; and then, as he 
weakly sank back on the bed and spoke no more, Pike was 
forced to retire to study long and profoundly the paper with 
the help of his wife. The first words in the curious prescrip- 
tion chanced to be " Sum vinctus" and these suggested to Pike 
a brilliant and economical idea. 

"Some vinctus?" he said to his wife, who was equally at a 
loss with the paper, " what the deuce is ' vinctus,' I wonder — 
some simple thing like castor oil or senna and salts, I'll swear? 
Them chemists, you know, are awful cheats, and puts it on 
fearful when the thing is writ on a bit paper. I know what I'll 
do. I'll just go in an ax 'some vinctus' — say a pennyworth — 
for a sick child, and take my own bottle, and I'll get the same 
that they'd be charging half-a-crown for." 

This seemed a cheap and at the same time effectual way of 
getting at the required information regarding the keys, and 
cordially approved of by the wife of the thief, who sagely 
remarked that, even if the medicine wasn't quite right, " he'd 



AN EXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTION. 275 

never know the differ," and by that time they would know 
about the keys. So Pike took a lengthy stroll across the city 
to a quarter in which he was not likely to be known, and, 
boldly entering a chemist's shop, asked for "a pennyworth of 
vinctus." Unfortunately for Pike, his knowledge of Latin pro- 
nunciation, either of the Scotch or English schools, was wofully 
deficient, and the chemist, though clever and skilful, failed to 
recognise the word, and said — 

" I don't know what you mean. What is it for?" 

" It's for a poor sick child." 

"Oh, indeed. Then you had better bring a prescription 
from a doctor." 

" But it'll cost more that way, won't it ?" cautiously demurred 
Mr Pike. 

" Sixpence more." 

" Oh, well, if it's only sixpence I don't mind. The fact is I 
have a prescription, but I thought I'd save you the trouble read- 
ing it, and just ax the thing straightforrard ;" and he produced 
the dirty scrap of paper and placed it in the chemist's hands. 

The man read it through in wonder and growing excitement, 
and, not quite able to control his surprise, exclaimed when he 
had finished — 

" Who wrote this — this prescription ?" 

" It was the doctor, I s'pose. I don't know his name, but 
it's all right, I s'pose, isn't it?" 

"Yes, oh yes; it's right," returned the chemist; "but it'll 
be rather an expensive prescription for you — that is, it'll take 
an hour or two to make up. If you call back in a couple of 
hours I could have it ready for you." 

Pike was about to ask somewhat precipitately how much the 
thing would cost him ; but then reasoning that he could refuse 
to take it, and so ingeniously throw the useless mixture back 
on the man's hands if he thought it too dear, he said that he 
would call back for it, and left the shop. 

The moment he was fairly out of sight, the chemist re-read 
the strange message, and leaving the shop in charge of an 
assistant, took a cab to the Police Chambers and asked for me. 
He then read over to me something like the translation I have 
given, and asked what was to be done. There was very little 
time to decide, but I resolved in the first place to watch the 
shop and see if the cautious messenger was one of my "bairns," 
and thus get some idea of the whereabouts of the trapped man. 
I drove back with the chemist, and that gentleman, having 



276 AN EXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTION. 

made up a bottle of harmless stuff, affixed to it a label bearing 
in Latin the message — 

"Experienced officers are tracking the bearer, and you will soon be free. " 

When I had been about an hour in the back-room of the 
shop the door was opened, and Pike appeared and asked if 
the medicine was ready. Watching him keenly through a 
chink of the door, I failed to recognise him. Indeed, Pike up 
to that moment had not passed through my hands, and his 
home was unknown to me. I therefore decided not to arrest 
him, as my object was to release the captive rather than make 
William a prisoner, and to arrest Pike might have been only 
to seal his lips and tie our hands. I signalled to the chemist 
to let him leave after handing him the bottle, and for form's 
sake charging him a shilling for its harmless contents. 

Pike seemed to have not a shadow of suspicion or fear, for 
after leaving the shop he never once looked round or seemed 
to know he was being followed, and whistled most of the way 
as cheerily as if he had just done a virtuous action. On reach- 
ing the Cowgate he turned up the close to his den, and I, 
before following, paused to send a message up to the Office by 
the man on the beat. Then I entered the close, and took up 
my stand in a stair opposite Pike's cellar, to impatiently await 
the arrival of M'Sweeny and the other men I had sent for. 

While I waited Pike had delivered the medicine to his 
prisoner, who read the message on the label, and at once, in 
the joy of the moment, revealed to his captor where the keys 
were kept. Pike thereupon locked up his prisoner, and left 
him in charge of his wife, while he proceeded in the dusk to 
test the accuracy of the information. With dismay and 
chagrin I saw him leave the cellar and ascend the close, and 
realised that I was in a desperate fix. I could not leave the 
spot without giving directions to the men, and to remain was 
to lose sight of Pike's valued person. In the eager anxiety of 
the moment I ran down to the foot of the close to see if they 
were coming, and at the dark entry mouth nearly knocked over 
M'Sweeny, who, thinking I was some fugitive, nearly collared 
me before I could speak. 

'•' Come here, quick," I cried, in an excited whisper, as I led 
him and the other two men up the close to the cellar door. 
" Break in there at once, and take all that are in it to the 
Office. Then get the address of the house from the gentle- 
man, and go there and watch the house." 

I was off with a run as I uttered the orders, and darted out 



AN EXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTION. 277 

at the top of the close just as the crash inwards of the dooi 
before M'Sweeny's heavy frame reached my ears. I was just 
in time to see Pike turning the corner of North College Street 
to go south, and I did not again lose sight of him till he 
entered the garden-gate of Mr Brownings' house, which he 
opened as boldly as if it had been his own. I allowed him to 
enter, noticed that he did not lock the gate after passing within, 
and then, allowing him free range of the premises, quietly 
waited for my comrades. In half-an-hour a cab dashed up to 
the spot, from which descended M'Sweeny and his assistants, 
with the released prisoner, Mr Brownings. We opened the 
garden-gate, passed up the walk, entered the house by the 
front door, and then confronted Pike in the act of tying up a 
quantity of silver plate into a table-cloth, for convenience in 
removal. As he was pounced upon by the men and hand-, 
cuffed, I thought he was petrified at beholding or possibly 
recognising me; but, following the direction of his protruding 
eyes, I saw that they were chained to the smiling and triumph- 
ant face of his late prisoner. 

" My God! how the blank, blank, blank did you get here? " 
was all he could gasp out. 

He had left the man entombed, as he thought, without the 
possibility of communicating with any one, and there he was 
before him smiling, and surrounded with police officers, with 
their respective positions suddenly and magically inverted. 
That was what staggered and astounded him so much that he 
scarcely thought of the fact that he was in our hands, and 
booked for a heavy sentence; that was what sealed his lips 
and made him stare about him dazed and stupid-looking, as a 
man just awakened from a dream. 

At the Office, when we entered, some one said to me — 

" Where have you been ? " to which I answered — 

" I've been fishing, and have just landed a beautiful Pike;" 
whereat sweet William scowled like a bandit, and looked as if 
he could have struck me if his hands hadn't been fastened, and 
he hadn't been a great coward. 

His cleverness got him seven years and his wife five, and 
the way they both swore under their breath at the trial when 
the expensive prescription was explained and translated was a 
pleasure to behold. Pike, as he was led downstairs, continued 
to swear, and repeat pathetically as a refrain — 

" I wish I'd knowed Latin ; I'd have did the blank, blanks ! 
I'd have did them ! " 



278 DEAD BEAT. 



DEAD BEAT: AN INCIDENT OF THE BANK 

FAILURE. 

"Thief! thief! stop thief!" What a thrilling, excited start 
every one gives when the words suddenly swell out in a crowded 
thoroughfare like the South Bridge ! And with a professional 
ferret like myself, of course, the feeling is stronger and more 
electric — a sudden tingling, running straight to fingers and 
heels, banishing fatigue or indifference like a flash, a.nd giving 
instantly the power to fly like the wind, and struggle and fight, 
and hold on tooth and nail to the fugitive till the slower crowd 
dash up, and he is either pinned rigidly to the pavement, or 
handcuffed, or battered senseless as he struggles. 

I was standing with M 'Sweeny near the Cowgate railings, 
on the South Bridge, one day in January, when this cry sud- 
denly ended our conversation. The time was about three in 
the afternoon, the day frosty, and the snow-scraped pavements 
glassy with thin ice. Three months of continual frost and 
snow were gone, and other three were to come. AVe were, 
indeed, in the midst of a "hard winter," in more senses than 
one. 

" Look out, Barney ! — there ! he's past ! gone towards 
Chambers' Street," was all I had time to shout out, when, with 
the fleetness of a trained runner, the figure of a man, bearing 
a canvas cash-bag in his hand, was past us and out of sight in 
a moment. M'Sweeny, in obedience to a snap of my fingers 
after the flying figure, followed at his fastest and disappeared ; 
while I lingered to join the foremost of the shouting crowd — a 
hatless gentleman, whom I had recognised as a well-known 
investment broker, whom I may call Dalgleish. I had caught a 
glimpse, and no more, of the face and figure of the fugitive — 
a bloodless, dingy-hued, hungry face, considering that the man 
was young — and was anxious to make sure that he was the 
culprit, and not some confederate set on to lead us astray. 

"What's wrong? been robbed?" I cried, running hard as I 
spoke. 



DEAD BEAT. 



279 



" Yes — over fifty pounds in notes and silver — gone at a whip," 
he pantingly gasped in reply. " You're M'Govan, I think, the 
detective ? For goodness' sake, don't let the villain out of sight." 

" A young man, was he ? Very gaunt and starved like ?" 

" Yes, yes. He flew past you just a moment ago." 

"Miserably clothed, I thought, too. I'm sure I saw his 
bare soles shining through his boots as he ran." 

" Same scoundrel. I know him. His name's Morison. 
Snatched the bag out of my hand at the very bank door, and 
ran like lightning before I could draw a breath." 

" A discharged clerk of yours, I suppose?" 

" Oh, no ! his father was a merchant of some kind, but 
retired through ill health, and invested in the City of Glasgow 
shares through us last summer, and came down in October 
with the bank. I know very little about them." 

" Perhaps he had been waiting for you and watching his 
chance ?" 

" I don't know — likely enough. They had to give up 
everything, and have been out of sight ever since. I should 
scarcely have known him, he was so ragged and changed. It 
was the glare of his eyes as he wrenched the cash-bag out of 
my hands that made me sure of him." 

We had now reached the head of Guthrie Street, a new road 
leading down to the Cowgate, but all trace of the fugitive, and 
M'Sweeny as well, was lost. A gabbling inquiring crowd sur- 
rounded us, apparently quite ignorant of what brought them 
there ; and not wishing so much company in my searches, I 
advised Mr Dalgleish to get back to the bank door, at which 
his hat had blown off and been left lying, and then go up to 
the Office and report formally, assuring him that it was possible 
he might find the fugitive there before him, in M'Sweeny's 
keeping. This movement had the effect of dividing the crowd, 
and after a moment I got rid of my share by going into a stair 
further down, crossing a back yard, and getting out into the 
Cowgate below. There I stood at a provision shop window, 
staring vacantly at knuckles of salt pork and lumps of Irish 
butter, and having a good think. The brief words of the man 
robbed, and the glimpse I had had of the thief, gave me an 
instinctive feeling that I had a disagreeable task before me. I 
secretly began to hope that I should not find the thief. 

A few minutes later, and further down the street, I came 
upon M'Sweeny, looking very important and breathless, but 
without any prisoner. 



280 DEAD BEAT. 



"You've lost him, then ?" I said, with an appearance of dis- 
appointment and disgust. 

"Begorra, Jamie, if it had been you, you'd have lost him 
twice over, he ran so nimble,'' said my chum, with energy. 
"The legs isn't grown yet that'll bate him. Who was he now. 
d'ye know? I mane, which of ' our bairns ?'" 

'• None of them,'' I said moodily, though with a grim smile 
as I spoke ; ' ; this one's out of another family entirely. He'? 
an outsider." 

•■ Whew ■ that's one of the kind you like to get hould of, to 
make one of your murderin' stories out of. You'll want to 
ketch him moighty hard, I know : that's why you're sulky wid 
me, after me near killing myself with a run that Deerfoot 
couldn't have aqualled." 

'•' There you re wrong, for I don't particularly want to catch 
him. But there's about fifty pounds gone with him, and we 
must get that. It's a pity he didn't throw it down. Where 
did you lose him ?" 

" Where did I lose him ? Faix, ye might as well ax where 
the darkness flies to when you light the gas. He wint — that's 
all I know."' 

li As usual," I growled. 

'• Yes, always active, and smart, and able for me work, Jamie," 
said M'Sweeny with elation. '■' I'll be that long after you re 
laid on the shelf, like an ould bone that's been picked clean, 
and is good for nothing but pounding into dust." 

'• He'll be somewhere about the Cowgate. I suppose ? " I 
suggested, knowing from experience that M'Sweeny always 
came off best in banter, whatever he might do in work. 

•■ The Cowgate, is it ? If he ran that way all the time, he'll 
be nearer the moon by this time. Hows ever, it was here 
abouts I lost him." 

■■ Weil, you can go after that other business and leave this 
job to me. I've an idea how to get him." 

••Troth, I expicted that, after you've drawed all the ideas 
out of me, and then you'll get all the credit for the job. Och, 
Jamie, but you're cunning, cunning ! " 

" I'm afraid there'll be little credit in it, to us at least," I 
quietly answered; and thus we parted, M'Sweeny to look after 
a pawnbroker's affair at the south side, and I to pursue my 
work alone. Curiously enough, the idea of tracing the daring 
thief had come to me when staring in at the provision shop 
window. Provisions — food — that was thg thought. Starva- 



DEAD BEAT. 281 



tion — or at least want — was written in the thief's whole aspect; 
what could be more natural, if this had goaded him to the 
crime, than that the first-fruits of the crime should be spent in 
relieving that craving? I began with the provision shops and 
bakers where I stood, and slowly worked my way down to the 
foot of the street at Cowgate Port, making careful inquiries in 
each for a late customer answering the description I have given. 
I got no trace of him, however, and retraced my steps and 
began with the upper portion of the street, and thus worked 
my way towards the Grassmarket. Then I did come on a clue 
as good as a detective could wish for. I had asked the usual 
questions about a young man, haggard and shiny-eyed, buying 
provisions — such as bread and the common necessaries — when 
the woman in the shop, unlike the most I had questioned, 
brightened and said — 

"Oh, you must mean the Morisons up the next entry?" 

" I do mean the Morisons and no others," I responded, 
with a sudden thrill at the discovery; "did they get anything, 
say about an hour ago ? " 

'•Yes, they did, and paid for it honourably — the young man 
himself — and said he'd settle for all the other things to-morrow. 
I knew they were honest from the first, though my man said I 
had better no trust them owre muckle." 

u Oh, they've run up an account with you, then?" I said, 
making no comment on the supposed honesty of her customer. 

" Yes, they're gentry, you know, come down through the 
Bank, and were sair against takin' on onything at first, but 
there's been trouble in the family, and " 

" Would you direct me to the house? I have some — some 
business with them," I stammered, liking my task worse than 
ever. 

" 'Deed will I, though it was three times as far," cried the 
woman with great readiness; and calling a girl from the back- 
shop to take her place, she at once led me out of the shop and 
up to a worn and slimy stair in a low entry close by, telling 
me, on the way, in a confidential whisper, that she secretly sus- 
pected that they were " furrer doon the brae than maist folk 
thocht." I began to think that the warm-hearted woman was 
not far wrong. 

I counted the storeys as I went up, and duly turned into the 
passage on the third, as I had been directed; but though ] 
asked at every door, as I explored, I found no one who knew 
anything of such a name. At last, one Irish labourer said it 



282 DEAD BEAT. 



might be the folks in the "little room at the back," and thithei 
I went, on learning that the said room was the home of a 
family not many months in the place. With the help of some 
matches, which I struck after the abrupt closing of the door, 
I found the door, and was told, in answer to my knock, to 
"Come in." I turned the handle, and stepped within, to find that 
the little hole was not in darkness, as I had expected. A candle, 
evidently fresh from the shop, was stuck in a bottle on the 
mantelpiece and lighted; while on a chair in a corner lay a 
loaf and some other provisions still in their wrappings. 
Further back was a straw mattress, with some rags for a pillow, 
and a man's overcoat for a coverlet; and on this lay a young 
girl of some twelve years, who was being raised a little, as I 
entered, by an old man, who knelt in front of the rude couch. 
Nothing else was visible in the room. There was no fire, and 
the air was icy cold. 

After the old man had adjusted the position of the sick girl 
to his satisfaction, he turned to me; but a want of intelligence 
or brightening in his glance made me look at him more keenly, 
and then I dimly understood, by his half-groping walk across 
the floor, that he was blind. Then my eye wandered to the 
panting and wasted shadow on the mattress, and I instinctively 
uncovered my head, for one look told me that the Reaper 
whose name is Death hovered near. 

" I don't see well," said the old man, addressing the direc- 
tion of the door; " indeed," (and he gave a shivering gesture 
towards the sick girl), " I am almost blind." 

"You are Mr Morison, I believe?" I said. 

"Yes; and you, I suppose, are the missionary? The 
minister wouldn't come when my son James went for him. 
There was a time when the best would have come at my bid- 
ding, but that's all past now — all past ;" and a deep sigh and a 
tremulous clasping of the blue cold hands finished the sentence. 

"I am not the missionary. My name is M'Govan ; but I 
did call on account of your son," I stammered, feeling worse 
than if I had been the chased instead of the hunter. 

"It was very kind of you to come, Mr M'Govan," said the 
old man, perfectly unsuspicious, and putting out a cold hand 
to feel for my own in grateful confidence. " This is my 
daughter, May. She has been very poorly, and the severe 
weather has been against her. May, dearie, here's a kind 
gentleman come to see you instead of the missionary. Sit 
down, sir;" and he hastily groped his way to the solitary 



DEAD BEAT. 283 



chair, cleared it of the packages, and forced me to be seated 
close to the bed on the floor. " My son will be here in a little. 
He has only gone up to George Square to get a better doctor. 
I'm afraid the parish one doesn't do her a bit of good ; and 
James has at last induced that man Dalgleish to give up some 
of the money he so cruelly swindled us out of; so we can afford 
to get the best advice." 

I bent over the sick girl in silence. I could not have 
spoken though my life had depended on it. The girl lay pant- 
ing fearfully, with her intensely bright eyes fixed on my face ; 
but a slight motion of the fingers of her thin hand showed that 
she wished me to take them within my own, which I hastened 
to do. The gentle clasp seemed to give her strength, for in a 
moment or two she turned to the old man with an eager whisper. 

" I feel cold, father. Would you go down to the yard and 
see if they are coming with the coals and wood ?" 

All this was said in gasps; and when she had finished, and the 
old man was eagerly tottering out of the room to obey, I took out 
my handkerchief to wipe the thick beads of perspiration from 
her temples. As I did so I saw the tears creep into the bright 
eyes, and then the lashes drooped and they overflowed. 

But the moment the door closed, her fingers tightened on 
my own, and with an intensely eager look she turned to me, 
half raising herself from the bed. 

" Father doesn't know I'm so ill — he doesn't see me— he is 
quite blind, though he wishes me not to know it, and says every 
day how well I am looking," she painfully whispered. " I just 
sent him away to tell you the truth." 

"The truth?" I echoed, with a slight start, thinking of the 
robbery. 

" Yes, the parish doctor was here yesterday, and I asked 
him to tell me all he knew — quiet, you know, so that father 
shouldn't hear him." 

" Well, dear ? " 

" He looked into my throat. You know I can hardly get 
breath, and the room always seems as if there was no air in it, 
and he says he can do nothing for me — I cannot get better — I 
am dying." 

" And you were startled and a little frightened, eh ?" 

" No, no ; I am not afraid to die ; I am only afraid to tell 
father. It's him I'm troubled about. What will he do without 
me ? That's why I wanted a minister or a missionary to come. 
Will you tell him for me, as I don't want to break his heart, 



284 DEAD BEAT. 



and now there's so little time? I think my brother James 
suspects the truth, but my father thinks I've only caught cold 
and will soon be well again." 

Here was a task indeed ! I sat back trembling, and mentally 
wishing I had rather been set on to face the most desperate of 
house-breakers than that feeble and trusting blind man. Be- 
fore I could collect my thoughts for a reply — for the words had 
come out in slow and painful gasps with long pauses between — a 
footstep sounded at the door, and the old man appeared bear- 
ing a lump of coal and some chopped wood, with which he pro- 
ceeded to build a fire. 

" May must be thought of first, you know,'' he observed to 
me, with affected cheeriness. ■• I called her May. because she 
was a May flower, and we wanted her path through life to be 
soft and lovely, as if strewn with flowers. It hasn't been quite 
that, Mr M'Govan, especially since the Bank failure, when we 
gave up everything, and lost all my savings besides ; but there's 
better times coming, now; isn't there, May, dearie?" 

A faint whisper came from the rude bed which was meant 
for a '• Yes, father, dear," but it was choked off abruptly, and I 
saw the lips quiver and the eyes fill as the girl's words ceased. 
The old man stopped in his fire building, and listened intently 
in the direction of the bed. 

" May. dearie, you're not — not crying ? " 

" No, father ; I'm smiling," she answered, banishing the look 
of anguish with a quick effort ; " come and feel my face and 
you'll see." 

A troubled smile took the place of the look of concern, and 
the blind man appeared to look in the direction of the child. 

" Yes. I see you're smiling, May. Oh, my eyes are not so 
bad yet but I can see you, though they're worse than they were. 
You know, Mr M'Govan, it was my failing sight made me give 
up business and invest in Bank stock. It was so sure and safe, 
that scoundrel Dalgleish told me, and the dividend was sure to 
rise in a year or so to fourteen or fifteen per cent. And all the 
while the rascal knew the Bank was coming down, or at least 
tottering. He as good as admitted it to me in his office when 
the crash came. My sight got worse then — the shock did it; 
and all my friends became blind at the same time : or if they 
weren't, their pity was worse than their shunning." The old 
man's voice became broken and wavery as he spoke, and he 
kept his face persistently turned towards the fire, that the sick 
girl might not see his tear-wet cheeks. 



DEAD BEAT. 285 



" .Now that the worst is past, Mr M'Govan, I don't mind tell- 
ing you that we ate nothing all yesterday, and only a crust the 
day before," he hastily continued. '• The parish doctor, I think, 
suspected something, for he offered to have some things sent 
us from the poorhouse; but I got so frightfully angry at the 
insult that he apologised, and said no more. No ! it shall 
never be said that Robert Morison became a pauper. That's 
what I said to James this morning when we woke to our hunger 
and cold. He said, ' Father, we're dead beat now ; I don't see 
anything for it but the poorhouse.' Mr M'Govan, the words 
went through me like a knife, to think that they should come 
from a son of mine! Yet I could not blame him, for it was 
love for us prompted the shameful proposal, and he was always 
a good son. He wouldn't wrong any one of a penny, Mr 
M'Govan, though he were to drop dead with hunger ; and when 
all our troubles are past, I'll be able to go up to the throne 
of God, and say, ' Here am I, and the little ones Thou hast 
given me.' That's what keeps me up in all my trials ; and I'll 
be able to see their bright faces again then, smiling and glorious 
— at least, better than I can now," he added, in sudden correction. 

I remained silent, busy with the sick girl, who had great dif- 
ficulty in breathing, and seemed to think that she was easier 
when supported in my arms ; but my thoughts were busy, 
and pictured to me a sudden and awful awakening to the trust- 
ing father when his son should return. I even began to long 
desperately that the lad might be nipped up outside. 

" When I siw the boy so low in spirits, as well he might be," 
softly continued the old man, " I said to him, ' Go out once 
more — for tne last time. I don't think God will let us 
perish.' " 

" And I said I would pray for him," painfully gasped the 
young girl. " I could have done it better if I had more air. 
There is so little down in this awful place." 

" And not an hour ago he came in with money, clinking 
silver and soft bank notes," triumphantly added the old man, 
his sightless eyeballs fairly glistening with rapture. " Then I 
forgot, in my joy, hunger and everything else but May. I 
couldn't eat, and Jam es was the same ; and he ran off for a bet- 
ter doctor at once. Perhaps he may get work now — he was a 
bank clerk, you know — and then all our troubles will be over. 
I don't mind the loss of the money a bit now ; May and my 
son are all I wish to keep. They are treasures that no one can 
steal." 



286 DEAD BEAT. 



I looked at the sunken face and bright eyes of the panting 
girl as he spoke, and my heart fairly stood still. I fancied I 
saw a change on her face even then. In the dead silence 
which followed, even the old man's attention was attracted to 
the quickened sounds, and he drew closer to the bed, and felt 
for her hand. 

" May, dearie, are you in pain ? " 

" No, not now, father dear," she managed to whisper. 
Then, after a moment, she faintly added, "Kiss me, father." 

The old man hurriedly obeyed; and then was saying some- 
thing about the new doctor being there soon, when the girl 
said, " I can scarcely breathe, father dear — is there enough air 
in the room? Would you open the window, and let in 
more ? " 

The old man turned his face to the light as he rose to obey; 
and then for the first time I saw a shade of alarm creep across 
his features. It was not grief, nor pallor; it was simply 
thought — a sudden startling awakening. 

The window was opened, and an icy breeze swept into the 
empty room. Then as suddenly as she had spoken before, the 
poor girl said — ■ 

" Father — come here— close, closer. I'm afraid — I'm going 
there before you — I'm going there now." 

A stony look, which I shall never forget, crept over the old 
man's face; and I saw him put out a shaking hand to feel the 
soft face of the young girl. His fingers touched the trickling 
tears, and then he started as if he had been stung, and looked 
as if death was wrenching at his heart. 

" No, no, May, dearest flower of my heart ! it is not so bad," 
he cried, after the first stunning shock was over. " We are to 
get over our troubles now; and — hush ! there's James at last — - 
the new doctor will soon put you right." 

The door opened, and my prisoner that was to be entered 
the room. He started and paled as his eye fell on the death- 
dewed face of the young girl ; then his eyes travelled to me 
with a curiosity not unmixed with alarm. 

" May feels rather worse, James — did you not bring the 
doctor?" said the old man with forced calmness. 

" He will come in an hour or two," said the haggard young 
man, taking his place by the bedside, with tears welling from 

his eyes, " and this " 

" This is Mr M'Govan, a kind — " began the father; but with 
the first mention of the name the culprit started, and became 



DEAD BEAT. 287 



more death-like than the girl in his arms. Then his eyes met 
mine, and that single glance told all. 

"Not here! not now!" he whispered in desperation to me 
under his breath, while the old man said something to the girl; 
" it will kill her. I will try to get away in a minute. I was 
dead beat, ind the temptation was too much. It was for her I 
did it. God above us knows it was not for myself." 

I said nothing, and at the same moment the dying girl 
tugged his hand sharply. 

" I am not to get better," I heard her whisper; "kiss me 
twice." 

A little later, she cried in evident pain, "More air! more 
air! oh, if you would carry me outside, I think I could breathe!" 
Then her father's shaking hand touched her face, a smile 
beamed on her lips, nickered a moment and became fixed; 
and a second or two later she was at rest for ever. The old 
man appeared the least moved in the room. He listened to 
the last sigh with a face like marble, and then ran his fingers 
over the still features of the dead, saying, " God has taken my 
May flower to Himself; I wish I could say, ' Blessed be the 
name of the Lord !'" 

But a worse trial was to come. The son, after the first shock 
was over, produced the cash-bag, with the money, less that 
which he had spent, and placed them in my hands; and then 
we broke the news as gently as possible to the old man. 

" I was dead beat, father, and thought May might be saved 
if I could only get herthe nice nourishing things the doctor spoke 
of," pleaded the son in desperation as the old blind man turned 
from him, wringing his hands in awful silence. 

"And now you are a thief and a robber ! " cried the old man. 
"You — my son — a thief! O God, this is too much ! " 

" But it was Dalgleish's money. I saw him with it in his 
hand at the Bank door, looking so sleek and well-fed, and I 
thought of you and what you might have been. Oh, father ! 
don't turn away from me and curse me. God knows it wasn't 
for myself, and I was faint and my brain turned at the moment." 

"No, I won't curse you — God wouldn't curse you; but take 
him away, detective, and leave me alone with my treasure ! 
Thank God, she has been taken to Heaven without knowing ! " 
And not another word could we get from the old man. He 
crouched down by the rude bed and still fair form; and thus 
I was ferced to leave him while I took young Morison away 
and had him locked up. We had the old man watched durhg 



DEAD BEAT 



the night, and in the morning he was brought up to bear wit- 
ness to the truth of my statements and fhose of the prisoner. 
Dalgleish was there too; and as he was submitted to a rigor- 
ous cross-examination, from which, though he admitted no- 
thing, it was quite evident that he had believed the Bank to be 
in a shaky condition when he induced Mr Morison to take the 
shares in it off his hand, the Sheriff, in the course of some 
stinging remarks, characterised him as a heartless scoundrel, 
more deserving of being at the bar than the prisoner. Then 
other friends of the prisoner spoke glowingly and eloquently, 
and I gave the facts much as I have here put them down; and 
in the end the Sheriff, taking all into consideration, simply 
ordered the prisoner to be dismissed. The blind father then 
groped towards the bar, and getting his hands on his son, 
and clasping him tight to his breast, said brokenly, " Forgive 
my hard words, Jimmy; you're no thief to me! We'll go forth 
and face the world together." 

But that was not the end of it, for blindness had not come 
on all their friends; and the son, through their influence, 
shortly after removed to an excellent situation in England, 
taking his father with him. I had a letter from him last May, 
regarding the planting of some flowers on the grave of his 
sister; and from it I learned that he is now as much trusted 
and respected as he was before he was so completely dead 
beat 



A SPLUTTER OF INK. 289 



A SPLUTTER OF INK. 

They were fastening up sheets of brown paper inside the 
windows of the house to keep the sun off the carpet, and 
intimate to their friends that they were at the country, when 
" Thin Edge," or Edgey, passed along the street. It was a 
fashionable place over in the New Town, every house in which 
was a main-door one ; and, considering the pickings such 
places generally afford to the diligent house-breaker, ever 
intent on catching the early worm, it is not surprising that 
Thin Edge paused to view the operation. Edgey was lanky 
and lean as a skeleton, besides which he was a great coward; 
but as he generally worked with a dumpy, bull-necked com- 
panion, whose name I shall mercifully change to Ben Touser, 
and who did not shrink at many things when his blood was up, 
Edgey's failings did not stand out so prominently. 

Ben I had known since we were boys attending the Canon- 
gate Burgh School, playing " shoo-dick " and ' • bools " together, 
and occasionally taking a trot down to Portobello on our bare 
feet to cool ourselves by half-a-dozen- bathes in the sea. But 
he had developed to a thief, and I to a thief-hunter. He was 
a full-blown criminal when I became a detective, but his face 
was one of those which do not alter much, and, though we 
passed each other as strangers, I knew him perfectly and he 
me. If there was any shame in him at all, I believe it came 
to the surface when he contrasted his debased condition with 
the position and respect I had gained. 

Ben was a mere animal, however — a low, vulgar brute of the 
type which, as often as not, leaves the world by means of the 
gallows. He did not attempt to plan work — he left that to 
Edgey — and here was a rare chance for the skinny scoundrel 
who had brain but no courage. 

A ticket newly pasted on one of the windows intimated that 

all letters and parcels were to be left at a grocer's at the other 

end of the town, thus emphasising the intimation which the 

mute brown paper on the other windows was making. It was 

s. c x 



2 9 o A SPLUTTER OF INK. 

as plain as if it had said, " House entirely deserted — abundance 
of valuables within — burglars, walk in and take what you 
please." 

Edgey noted the house, and moved off so as not to attract 
undue attention, and returning at leisure, found a cab at the 
door, and the family in the act of leaving. It was a family of 
grown-up daughters. There were six or seven of them, all 
apparently of an age, and so like each other that a lover jilted 
by one would have had no difficulty in consoling himself witli 
another. There. was a shabby little father, who was bustling 
about and helping with the luggage like a light porter, and a 
portly mamma who would have weighed down four of him 
easily; and Edgey began to curiously speculate as to whether 
they meant to cram all that load into one poor cab. In a 
minute or two they attempted the monstrous cruelty, and were 
only dissuaded when the cabman threatened to drive off rather 
than risk his cab, his licence, and his horse. There were 
nearly half-a-dozen boxes or baskets ; and even when they were 
piled on the pavement, the shabby father said something about 
"the heavy one," and, looking round, asked Edgey if he would 
mind giving the cabman a lift out with a box. Edgey didn't 
mind — he was of a particularly obliging disposition, and 
followed the gentleman at once. The servant, who had now 
finished fastening up the brown paper, was despatched for 
another cab; and then Edgey, the cabman, and Mr Woodford, 
entered a bedroom at the back, and were in the act of lifting 
the trunk by the handles, when the lock suddenly gave way 
and a number of dresses bounced up. 

" Don't say anything to them, or they'll take an hour to pack 
them in again," said Mr Woodford, alluding to his wife and 
daughters, who were chattering and laughing outside, and, at 
the same time, cramming them ruthlessly down, and making 
Edgey sit on the lid ; "I'll see if I can get a rope," 

He left the room for the kitchen, and, a moment after, the 
cabman said — 

" I have a bit of rope in the cab. I'll bring it." 

Thus Edgey for the merest second of time was left alone in 
the room. He gave a swift glance round, gently rose from 
the box, glided to the window, and drew back the sash 
fastener ; then, hearing the returning footsteps of Mr Wood- 
ford, he got back to the trunk, squeezed down the lid, and 
resumed his perch as solemnly as u monkey after emptying a 
sugar-bowl. 



A SPLUTTER OF INK. 291 

The box was tied up with rope and carried out to the cabs, 
and then Edgey professed the deepest gratitude when rewarded 
with a sixpence for his trouble, after he had assisted in placing 
the luggage on the cabs. During this operation he had taken 
care to test the weight of every box and basket, and with a 
sigh of relief decided that none of them contained the family 
plate and valuables. 

" How lucky for me that them brutes was a-biting of me so 
bad in bed that I'd to get up earlier nor usual and take a walk," 
was Edgey's reflection as the cabs drove off. 

"Them brutes" meant the '• B flats" with which Edgey's 
home swarmed in hot weather — a clear proof of how our 
greatest schemes are influenced by trifles. 

Edgey went straight to a favourite public-house in Rose 
Street, and, finding Ben Touser there — influenced possibly by 
"them brutes" as well — he called for sixpenny worth of 
whisky, put half of it before his companion, and tossed it off 
to his usual " Here's luck!" 

" Where ?" growled Ben, who was disposed to be quarrel- 
some. " I don't see it." 

" No, but you will when I tell you how I earned the money 
we're drinking," said Edgey with undaunted enthusiasm, and 
then in a whisper the whole plan was revealed. 

Still Ben did not take such a hopeful view of things as his 
skinny companion. 

"Two coachfuls of daughters," he hoarsely growled. 
" There won't be much to pick up in that house, you take your 
davy, 'cept dirty ruffles and old hair-pads. So many wimen 
eat up all the profit." 

"Yes, but in a big house like that they're bound to keep up 
an appearance, or they wouldn't get 'em married off their 
hands," sagely returned Thin Edge. 

" It'll be only an appearance, then," savagely answered 
Touser. " I've cracked them cribs before — regular swindles — 
the very lead spoons isn't genuine." 

" Ah, but this one's a real tip-top affair — I saw that when- 
ever I set eyes inside the door — and then, think of the windy 
bein' all ready to our hand — at the back of the house, too," warmly 
rejoined Edgey. " We'll be able to do the thing comfortable 
and easy, and if they've left any vituals in the place we needn't 
be in a particular hurry leaving. It'll be a kind of country 
lodging for us — nice soft beds and downy pillers, and none ot 
them brutes to trouble us — see ?" and Edgey poked his com- 



292 A SPLUTTER OF INK. 

panion with one of the bones he used as fingers, and smiled, 
and joked, and painted everything in glowing colours, till 
Touser was almost as hopeful as himself. 

The remainder of the day was occupied in making arrange- 
ments with different resets for the reception of the plunder 
they were to secure, and when night came they went down to 
the empty house, and with some difficulty managed to get into 
the green behind. Here, much to the chagrin of Touser, they 
discovered that there was an area flat, and that unless they 
had had a plank or a ladder to bridge the area, the unfastening 
of the bedroom window by Edgey was of no use whatever. 

If Touser had not been so thoroughly enraged at what he 
considered Edgey's stupidity, he would not have done anything 
so rash; but when his companion proposed to steal a ladder or 
plank he only cursed, and recklessly scrambled down into the 
area, and coolly prised open the kitchen door with a jemmy 
which he carried in the " back " pocket of his coat. The door 
gave way easily, the lock being crazy and worn, and the two 
house-breakers slipping in, shoved it gently to again, and, 
taking off their shoes, began a noiseless inspection of the pre- 
mises. Although Edgey had been positive that not a soul 
was left in the house, they had both come provided with 
scraps of crape, with which they cautiously covered their ugly 
faces before beginning business. They also carried a dark 
lantern, which was lighted and closed, only to be used in such 
of the rooms as were closely shuttered. All the others were 
explored and ransacked by the stray gleams of light from the 
street lamps or opposite houses. 

A very few minutes sufficed to complete the disgust of 
Touser, and to call from him a thousand expressions of con- 
tempt for Edgey's powers. 

" A miserable hunk of a place, without as much as a bit of 
bread and cheese left for a feller," he growled; "and as for 
plate, where is it?" 

" Here's some," said Edgey at last, prising open one of the 
locked cupboards, and revealing a glittering display of silver. 
" I knowed what I was after, never you fear." 

Touser took one or two of the articles down and examined 
them inside the press by the aid of his lantern, and then cursed 
more unguardedly than ever. 

" Just as I expected— every blowed bit of it electro-plate — 
cheapest kind — that would rub off if ye only looked at it. 
Spoons the same — brass, »ot even nickle, curse 'em : forks 



A SPLUTTER OF INK. 293 

plated too, but rather thicker, only they're old-fashioned; been 
bought at some sale, very like. Curse them, what do they 
mean by it ? Swindling us poor, innocent, hard-working prigs 
— not an article worth carrying away. Tell ye, Edgey, this age 
is going all to pot — everything's sham — not a bit of reality 
about anything. We'll be having sham prigs next, and sham 
detectives. There should be a bill brought into Parliament 
making it wrong to use anything but real silver. It don't give 
us a chance, this condemned electro-plate stuff." 

A short exploration of the other rooms, however, convinced 
them that there was very little else worth lifting, except some 
dresses and clothes for which they thought they might find 
a market, if they could only get them safely through the 
streets to some hiding-place. The electro-plate was accord- 
ingly packed up as securely as possible in two pieces of a 
woollen table-cover, which they tore up for the purpose, and 
then made up into two parcels, and revered with two superfine 
black coats belonging to Mr Woodford. 

At this interesting stage of the proceeding there was to be a 
slight divertisement which neitner had bargained for. While 
Touser was in the act of tying up his bundle, ana with every 
tug at the string cursing the inventor of electro-plate and hi.- 
ancestors to the beginning of time, he suddenly paused with a 
knot unfastened, and exclaimed — • 

" Sst ! isn't that like some one coming in below?" 

Both paused and listened breathlessly; and then their hearts 
almost stood still as they heard a key quietly turned in the 
lock of the front door below. 

" It's the beaks, and we're done for!" cried Edgey, dropping 
with a squirm on the carpet, and beginning to wring his hands. 
Touser's reply was to reach over the bundle, and grasp Edgey 
by the throat and shake him till he was nearly choked. 

" If you don't hold your jaw, I'll kill ye! " he hissed, under 
his breath; and Edgey knowing his disposition, was dumb in a 
moment. 

They then heard the outer door as softly closed as it had 
been opened, and presently heard the intruder pause close to 
the hat stand, as if he was, like themselves, divesting himself 
of his boots before proceeding further. 

" If it was a bobby, he'd have locked the door after him, 
and took out the key before anything," said Trouser, in an ex- 
cited whisper to the sweating coward in his grasp. " Surely it 
can't be two of a trade spotted the same plant?" 



294 A SPLUTTER OF INK. 

Edgey was unable to pass an opinion, or even to articulate 
a word, being already half insensible with terror. 

There ensued a painful pause — painful to Trouser, because 
he was puzzled and intently listening for any sound likely to 
put him right, and painful to Edgey, because sundry move- 
ments of the powerful ruffian grasping him seemed to indicate 
that he was getting out a knife. There was for a moment or 
two a dead stillness below ; then there was a sound like the 
striking of a match, and opening and closing of a lamp door, 
and then a soft fall of footsteps on the lobby and stairs leading 
up to the room in which the housebreakers were breathlessly 
crouching. With the first foot-fall on the stair Edgey became 
conscious of a sharp dig in a fleshy part of his body from a 
pointed weapon, and at the same moment heard Touser 
whisper — 

" Feel it? that's my knife, and I'll run it right into your 
heart if you don't get up and see who's coming up the stair. 
There's only one on him, and if I'm not able for him single- 
handed, call me a fool ever after;" and he coolly began to tug 
out a leaden-headed life-preserver, while Edgey, only too glad 
to get out of his clutches, crawled to the open door, peered out 
at the threshold, and down the wide staircase, and then, after 
a slight hiss of horror, dropped insensible on his belly on the 
carpet, and that so quietly that Touser, who was noiselessly 
spitting on his dirty paw — or rather licking it — to give him a 
secure hold of the murderous '• neddy," was not once conscious 
of anything particular having happened. Thinking at last that 
Edgey must be seeing something worth looking at, or he would 
not be so quiet, Touser crawled to the door-way, grazed his 
nose and cheek on the nails of Edgey's boots, and then, as a 
growling oath rose to his lips, raised his eyes and nearly drop- 
ped as inert and overawed as Edgey. In front of him, and 
coolly stepping on to the first landing of the wide staircase, was 
the form of a man, in dark outline in all but the face and 
hands, and these, horrifying to relate, were as luminous as if 
they had been made of flames. Volumes of sulphurous smoke 
slowly floated along the glowing features and swinging hands 
of the strange intruder, and it did not escape the quick 
observation of Touser that his feet, in ascending the few 
remaining steps to the landing, made no noise. 

" By gum ! we're in for it now ! " was Touser's horrified 
thought. " It's Old Nick himself — come to carry one of us 
away with him Jf I could only manage to say ' God ' or 



A SPLUTTER OF INK. 295 

' Bible,' or some o' them words I used to hear, he'd take fright 
and fly off, or maybe only grab at Edgey." 

As he got out his muttered exclamations, Touser's brute 
courage oozed entirely away, and he became crumpled up in a 
trembling heap on the top of his senseless companion. The 
satanic-looking intruder advanced along the landing and 
appeared to hesitate, as if not sure of the exact spot in which 
his plunder lay crouching. 

" He's quite young-looking, too, for all the hunders o' years 
he's been going about," reflected the shuddering Touser, vainly- 
wishing for the carpet and boards to open up and swallow him 
before the flaming fingers should reach out for him. " But the 
like of him never grows old — he's as spry and nimble to-day as 
he was when he give Eve the apple — so the gospel-grinder 
said. Speaks away to hisself, too, in a kind of foreign langwidge 
— Hebrew, likely — same as Jews speaks." 

To the astonishment, not to say relief, of the grovelling and 
quaking ruffian, the flaming-faced intruder, after speaking to 
himself for a moment or two in an unknown tongue, turned 
aside into one of the rooms which the two burglars had not yet 
explored, the door of which exactly faced that in which Touser 
lay in a half insensible state. He seemed indeed to vanish 
into the darkness; but after an interval, Touser's eye was caught 
by a gleam of light, which was not that suggestive and sul- 
phurous one shimmering from the face and hands; then 
peering out of the threshold into the far-off room, Touser saw 
the satanic stranger in the act of bending over a desk, upon 
which he had turned a tiny stream of light from a lighted 
lantern in his hand. First he tried a number of keys in the 
lock of the desk, and all failing to fit, he brought from his 
pocket a small chisel or screw-driver, the point of which he 
inserted near the lock, and thus forcibly wrenched open the desk. 

"Neatly done — to be sure, he's an old practised hand — at it 
hunders of years afore I was born," thought Touser, profes- 
sional interest for the moment banishing fear. 

The strange burglar hastily tumbled out the contents of the 
desk, carelessly tossing aside several bank notes and some 
postage stamps, as if they had been so much waste paper. 

" Doesn't need to take money — can make it by just blowin' 
on a hot coal or a bit of stone," thought Touser with a shudder. 
" Wish I could do it — I'd sell my soul this minute — only — no, 
I'd rather not. It's the going with him I'd object to; why, 
what's he up to now? " 



2 96 A SPLUTTER OF INK. 

The flaming hands were busy among a packet of papers, 
carefully and neatly tied up with pink satin ribbon; the sar- 
donic feature of flame actually seemed to smile with satisfaction 
as the packet was hastily counted and examined; then the 
packet was made to vanish about his decidedly modern-looking 
dress ; the lantern was sharply closed, and the flaming face and 
hands glided noiselessly across the floor and down the wide stair. 

Touser, at least, always believed that he went in some such 
way; but as he had fully expected the next movement to be a 
demon clutch of the fiery fingers at his own coat-collar or short 
cropped hair, and the next a downward flight, which should 
not stop when the ground was reached, his evidence on the 
point was rather hazy. How the strange intruder left the house 
must be left to conjecture; but certain it is that the outer door 
below was left unlocked. 

AVhen Edgey recovered consciousness, he found Touser 
seated on a chair near him refreshing himself by drinking a 
bottle of eau de cologne, which was the nearest approach to fire 
water he could find about the place. Touser had got a bad 
fright, but it had not prevented him from appropriating the 
three bank notes so loftily discarded by the satanic intruder, 
and also — fatal act! — the postage stamps tossed aside with 
them. Of this prize he said nothing to Edgey, who groaningly 
raised himself with other things more immediately occupying 
his thoughts. 

"Did you see him?" 

Touser growled out an affirmative, and drained the last drop 
of the eau de cologne. 

" It was him, wasn't it?" said Edgey, with chattering teeth. 

" Same old cove," answered Touser, affecting a coolness he 
was far from feeling. 

"What was he after? you or me?" whispered Edgey. 

" Broke open a desk, and did some hanky panky over the 
papers in it, and then grinned the way you see him doing in 
pictures, and went off in blue fire." 

' ' Wasn't you frightened ? " 

"Not much — he's a neat cracksman, that's all I've got to 
say; but then consider the practice he's had." 

" Did I do a flopper when he came in? " 

"You did — and I was nigh floppin' down on top of you," 
said Touser, whom the eau de cologne had only partly fortified. 
" My belief is the place is haunted, and the quicker we cut it 
the better." 



A SPLUTTER OF INK. 297 

" Without the swag? " 

'•You can take what ye like; I'll take nothing," was the 
emphatic reply of Touser, who had the bank notes and stamps 
in his pocket. 

" I think that'll be best," feebly responded Edgey, who was 
dying to take to his heels and put miles between him and the 
house of horror; and clinging to his companion, he got down 
the stairs and out by the back, and thence to their den in 
Rose Street. Secretly they each believed the apparition to be 
a warning to them to amend their evil ways, and with that 
belief came half-formed wishes and intentions after an honester 
life, which, like the most of such resolves, were soon to be dis- 
pelled by that iron hand of fate or circumstance which seems 
to relentlessly pursue the confirmed jail bird. 

The housebreaking was discovered next day and promptly 
reported to us, when our share in the mystification began. It 
was clear that the house-breakers had been disturbed or scared 
in the midst of their operations — the bundles put up ready for 
lifting proved that; but the puzzling thing was that the back 
door had been forced in, and yet the front door was found un- 
locked. The bedroom window being unfastened only helped 
to deepen the mystery. 

So far as we could discover, nothing had been taken from the 
house, and thus it was reported in next morning's newspapers ; 
but when Mr Woodford and one of his daughters were brought 
from their country lodgings, the bank notes, postage stamps, and 
a packet of papers, were at once notified as stolen. 

At first little was said about the papers, but next day Mr 
Woodford appeared in great excitement, and said that whatever 
it cost, I was to try and get back these papers, which were of no 
use to any one but himself. Questioned more closely, he 
vaguely gave me to understand that they were important 
evidence in a coming law suit, without which he feared he would 
not only lose his case, but be cast in heavy expenses. Now, I 
had very little to work upon except the reckless manner in 
which the back door had been prised in, and that was not un- 
like Touser's passionate style of going to work. It happened, 
too, that Touser was brought to the Office dead drunk on the 
same day, and in searching his pockets there was found, not 
money, but some three shilling's worth of postage stamps, all in 
a sheet, and somewhat creased and dirty with his pocket. It 
was absurd to think that any one in Touser's position should 
have so much correspondence as to need a supply of stamps 



298 A SPLUTTER OF INK. 

like that : but depending little upon that fact, I went to Mr 
Woodford and asked if he thought he could identify the stamps 
stolen. He in turn referred the matter to one of his daughters, 
whose desk it was which had been broken open, and she eagerly 
declared that she would know them by a splutter of violet ink 
with which she one day chanced to mar them. I joyfully pro- 
duced the stamps, showing the splutter of ink, and as they were 
identified at a glance, I knew that my case was all right against 
Touser. Indeed, I was of opinion that he and no other was 
involved. 

I went to his cell as soon as I returned to the Office, and 
abruptly said — ■ 

" Those stamps which you took from the desk in that house 
you broke into last week have done for you, for they've been 
identified by the owner ; now, seeing that you're booked, I sup- 
pose you won't mind letting me know what you did with the 
papers you took with them?" 

" I took none. I could swear it with my dying breath," he 
said, with a curious look over his shoulder. " The devil got 
the papers." 

"Who?" 

" ihe devil." 

"Who's he?" 

" What ! don't you know him ? — him that lives down, down- 
stairs, you know ;" and he pointed downwards as his voice 
became hushed. 

" Come, come, Ben — no chaffing. These papers are wanted 
particularly, and I give you my word that you won't lose by tel- 
ling what you've done with them." 

" That's all I know about them. The devil came all flaming 
in sulphur blazes, and took them as neat as if he'd beefl crack- 
ing cribs all his life, and that's a long word." 

I could get no other answer out of him, and erroneously 
supposed that he was chaffing as a fence to concealment. 

I began to believe, indeed, that he had been employed by 
some interested person to steal the papers, like " Coreing Jim," 
in the incident of " The Veiled Portrait," * but I was all wrong, 
as the reader will presently see. 

While I was thus probing the case from one side, another 
had been busy with it also, and that other was Thin Edge. 

One day when going along Princes Street, before Touser's 
capture, Edgey's companion suddenly cried — 
* See Hwited Down, page 41. 



A SPLUTTER OF INK. 299 

"Well, there's that devil again! What does he mean 

by haunting me like this?" 

The person thus indicated seemed an aristocratic and foreign- 
looking gentleman, not at all satanic in appearance, and Edgey 
at first set down the idea as the offspring of the bad whisky 
with which Touser's head was certainly at the moment befud- 
dled. Hearing also that the papers taken from the desk were 
wanted particularly, Edgey thought proper to follow the foreign- 
looking gentleman the next time he met him. The result was 
a growing conviction that the noble-looking foreigner and the 
strange burglar were the same person. The stranger's name was 
Nicole Chartier; he was a man of wealth, and a scientific savant 
as weS, and quite a lion at all the fashionable parties. But the 
most important information gleaned by Edgey was the fact 
that for six months M. Chartier had been most attentive to one 
of the many Miss Woodfords ; report indeed had it that they 
had been engaged ; that they had quarrelled, and that if the 
rupture were not healed, the case was likely to be heard of in the 
Court of Session in the form of an action for breach of promise. 

Edgey chuckled hugely, and had many demonstrative and 
goblin dances and rubbing of hands over the discovery. In a 
word, he said to himself he had got hold of a Good Thing 
The fact that Touser was in jail, and still in superstitious dark- 
ness regarding the flaming-faced cracksman, rather added to 
than diminished his sense of satisfaction. It would not do if 
every one were enlightened alike in this world — no one would 
have a chance to live then. Edgey dressed himself and oiled 
his Newgate knockers, and paid a visit to the French savant. 

The interview could not be called a pleasant one ; for each, 
after a few words of explanation, loudly defied the other, and 
threatened to call in me to settle the difficulty by locking the 
other up, and both as persistently failed to carry out their threat. 
At length, in a weak moment, and to save his reputation, and 
also prevent a valuable alliance with a second wealthy lady 
coming to a sudden conclusion, Chartier agreed to pay the black 
mail demanded by Edgey for his silence. 

The case might have ended there had Edgey been merciful 
in his bleedings, but the sensation was too new and delicious 
for that. He bled and bled, and tormented and threatened, 
till the Frenchman, utterly worn out, went to Mr Woodford, 
and, slyly declaring that it was quite a mistake to suppose he 
had ever written Miss Woodford letters offering her marriage, 
or anything that could be construed into implying such a con- 



300 A SPLUTTER OF INK. 

tract, asked him how much he would take to give him a full 
and free quittance of any claim or lawsuit that the young lady 
might bring against him. It was by this time pretty clear to 
Mr Woodford that without the letters so disastrously lost at the 
house-breaking he had no case, and he hailed the offer with 
secret delight. The case was withdrawn from the roll ; ample 
compensation was agreed to, a cheque for the amount being 
paid over to Miss Woodford, who promptly used it to pay for her 
marriage outfit, and was successfully linked to another man but 
a fortnight later. As soon as the marriage was published, the 
Frenchman discovered that it was he who had been done, and 
in his rage vowed to do for Edgey the first time he appeared 
But Edgey by that time was in safer hands, for I had got from 
Mr Woodford an account of the skinny assistant who had been 
left for a moment in the bedroom, and, coupling the fact 
with the unfastened sash, nipped up Edgey, and had him identi- 
fied before night. Edgey, making sure that he had been be- 
trayed by the Frenchman, told the whole adventure of the 
flaming-faced burglar; but when Mr Woodford was called, he 
scouted the story as an outrageous invention, and stoutly re- 
fused to have anything to do with the case. So Edgey and 
Touser went to their seven years' sentence, while M. Chartier 
went away on his wedding-tour. Mr Woodford gave me the 
whole story long after, as related by the well-sucked victim, 
from which I learned that the flaming appearance on Chartier's 
face and hands was nothing but a preparation of phosphorus, 
with which he had covered them on entering the house with a 
view to frightening any servant who might have been left 
behind ; the door being opened with a key he had got made 
months before from a cast taken by himself while on a visit 
to the house, 



A WOMAN'S LOVE. 301 



A WOMAN'S LOVE. 

One of the booking-clerks down at the Waverley Station 
was one forenoon in the act of giving change for a pound note 
to a gentleman booking for one of the local trains, when some- 
thing peculiar about the half-sovereign he was paying out 
caught his eye, and made him pause to examine it. It had 
not the look of an ordinary counterfeit gold coin, of the kind 
manufactured with elaborate skill at prices varying from one- 
quarter to two-thirds of their current value; on the contrary, it 
had an old and half-worn appearance, which was even carried 
to the milling of the edges. Nor was it bright as a counterfeit 
fresh from the manufacturers, but dull in lustre, and apparently 
a little dirty and greasy with passing through grimy hands or 
pockets. 

Thus far the coin would have passed a hasty scrutiny — and 
had already passed that 01 the booking-clerk — but when dashed 
down on the counter had no responsive musical ring to give 
out. It was dull and inert as a lump of lead — but a clumsy 
cast coated with gold. 

" It's a bad one," said the clerk in dismay, pausing to think, 
undisturbed by the eager shouts of the passengers pressing and 
jostling at the little window. '"When did I take it? — only a 
minute ago — I remember — that dirty customer who came first 
with a pound, which I couldn't change." 

It was an awkward plight, but there was not a moment to 
lose. With some difficulty the lad got another to take his 
place at the window, and with very little hope of success ran 
along the platform to one of the trains just filling for a start. 
Eagerly peering into every compartment and into every face 
he passed, he at last came upon a ragged-looking man seated 
in a smoking compartment in the act of lighting a stumpy little 
clay pipe. The man had a worn and " wauf '-like look, and 
appeared to have all his luggage and personal effects in a 
knotted red cotton handkerchief lying on the seat beside him. 

" Hullo, you ! " cried the clerk very sharply. " You gave 
me a half-sovereign to change, didn't you?" 



3«2 A WOMAN'S LOVE. 

" Yes, I did," was the astonished answer, given without any 
appearance of confusion. 

That was enough for the clerk. He sprang into the carriage, 
snatched up the little bundle, seized the man by the collar, 
and roughly hustled him out of the carriage, making him break 
the clay pipe in his teeth as he did so, and then whistled out 
to two or three of the busy officials, who instantly surrounded 
and secured the prisoner beyond the possibility of escape. A 
policeman was soon got hold of; and to get away from the 
crowd which instantly collected, they hustled the man into an 
empty waiting-room, when he at once repeated the question 
he had been asking in vain from the first — 

" What is it all about ? what have I done? " 

" Passing bad money. The half-sovereign was a bad one," 
said the booking-clerk. 

" Are you sure ? " cried the accused with a startled look, 
which every one present thought very cleverly assumed. 

" Quite sure." 

"Then I'm done ! " exclaimed the prisoner, who was dressed 
in the torn and dirty overalls of a broken-down working man. 
" I'm done, for I have another;" and there and then he put his 
hand in his pocket, pulled out a greasy old purse, and pro- 
duced another half-sovereign of the same date and make as 
that detected by the clerk. 

"Any more of them about you?" asked the policeman, 
with a knowing grin, as he took possession of the coin, after 
demonstrating its spuriousness. 

"No more; I got them from a gentleman in change for a 
pound just outside the rail of the booking-office," said the man, 
with a wonderfully calm look. " I wonder if I'll ever see him 
again. I canna afford to lose so much. I'm a puir man oot 
o' work, and dear kens when I'll win in again." 

Every one grinned, and the policeman assured him he need 
not give himself any concern on that account, as he would in 
all likelihood be provided with work for some years to come. 

Then, for the first time, the prisoner looked concerned and 
angry, and vehemently protested his innocence. When asked 
for his name and address, however, he hesitated, and gave but 
a meagre account of himself, and a name which every one pre- 
sent believed to be a false one. 

Thus far the case seemed clear enough — an unknown tramp 
taken almost in the act of smashing, and likely to suffer 
smartly for it. But the singular feature, was yet to come in. 



A WOMAN'S LOVE. 303 

An ordinary smasher would have been content with telling the 
usual pathetic story of having received the money from some 
one else "to hold" or keep for him; and then would have 
begun to speculate on the temperament of the judge who 
would sentence him, and on the possibility of other convictions 
cropping up against him to affect the length of his sentence. 
But this one did not drop into apathetic inaction. When he 
was remitted to the High Court he sent for me, and surprised 
me by saying — 

" You get the name of not being hard on a man when he's 
down. I'm going to tell you all about that business with the 
half-sovereigns, and all about myself, if you will promise to try 
and catch the real criminal." 

" That is what I am employed to do," I cautiously returned. 
" Let me hear your story, and I'll do what I can." 

He then admitted that he had given a false name, that his 
real name was John Turnbull, and that he had been in business 
in a small way in Glasgow, but had "gone through it all" in a 
way that exasperated his creditors, from whom he had escaped 
—from whom, indeed, he was in hiding. Then came a repeti- 
tion of the story of having got the two half-sovereigns in change 
for a pound outside the rail of the booking-office. 

"I went forrit first to the window and offered the pound, 
but the clerk said ' I haven't change — go outside the rail and 
wait a little till I've taken some change.' I went out and 
waited, and waited till the hand of the clock was at train time, 
and I began to get feared that I would lose the train. Then, 
while I was asking if he could gie me change yet, a gentleman 
— a real swell with kid gloves and a light tweed suit on — -said 
he could give me half-sovereigns for it; so I took it and paid 
for my ticket with one of them." 

"How did it happen that you had exactly a pound and no 
more money in your possession ? " I asked, concealing my 
incredulity as best I could. 

" Because I had just got a pound sent from my eldest lassie 
in Glasgow that morning. I hadna a penny in the world till 
the order came. I couldna even afford a lodging the night 
before, and had to walk the streets till morning." 

" The pound came by Post Office order then ? " 

"Yes; I got the letter at the General only an hour before 7 
took oot my ticket." 

"And signed your real name for the order?" 

" Yes." 



304 A WOMAN'S LOVE. 

That was all I wanted to know. If he had lied, I could 
prove it by a call at the Money Order Office. He had not 
lied. The receipt and order were there, signed by him and 
sent by his daughter, and the sum sent was exactly what he 
had stated — one pound. His other statements were one by 
one proved to be correct, all but the alleged changing of the 
note, of which we had no witness. The booking-clerk remem- 
bered Turnbull coming to the window and presenting a pound 
for change, and also of telling him to wait a little; so his case 
was all but clear, and I began to try how I could best keep 
my part of the agreement by looking for the real criminal. I 
was half convinced of the man's innocence, but felt tolerably 
certain that if I did not get hold of another, he would suffer 
for the crime. 

But for a singular weakness in humanity, I daresay I might 
soon have got a clue. That weakness is a reluctance to 
examine too closely the coins in one's possession. No one 
likes to discover that he is carrying false coin, as that implies a 
certain loss to himself, and, consequently, much of the base 
coin manufactured remains in circulation indefinitely. Some 
days after the remitting of Turnbull, however, a half-sovereign 
was brought to the Office by a victim more sharp-eyed and 
honest than the mass, and as this man's idea was that he had 
got the coin in change at one of the booking-offices on the 
railway, we began to believe that the real smasher was still at 
work in that direction. The coins were identical in make, 
date, and finish. 

Now in one sense a half-sovereign is a bad coin to pass with 
profit, especially at a railway booking-office, for no very expen- 
sive ticket could be asked for, and by going repeatedly to the 
same windows, the smasher was likely to become known. 
However, the person in this case seemed to have a weakness 
for the railway, on account probably of the haste, and squeez- 
ing, and excitement always to be found there, and there it was 
that I looked for him. 

The time was July, when the trains for Portobello, Mussel- 
burgh, and the other seaside resorts were running every twenty 
minutes or so, and generally crowded withal. There was 
always a great crush at the booking-office of these trains, 
especially on Saturday, and it sometimes happened that the 
window of the ticket office had to be slammed to before all 
were served — the remainder being coolly told to wait for the 
next train. 



A WOMAN'S LOVE. 30 5 



I was watching at one of these crushes, when I saw the 
window suddenly closed, and, glancing up, saw that it had 
been shut too soon by a minute and a half. A moment later 
the clerk came out at the door, and, catching sight of me, 
motioned me within to show me one of the familiar yellow 
coins. 

" Done again, hang it ! " was his excited exclamation, as \ 
whistled out over the sham half-sovereign. 

"Who passed it? — did you notice?" I quickly asked. 

" I didn't notice — I was too hurried, with every one shouting 
at the window," was the chagrined reply. " Did you not 
notice any one?" 

I thought for a moment, and then said — 

" Was it not that tall, gentlemanly young fellow in light 
tweeds ? Yet he had not the look of a smasher." 

" I believe it was a man at least. You might take a walk 
round the station and see if you can recognise him." 

I did as he advised, and after a stroll round at last found a 
young and remarkably good-looking gentleman seated com- 
fortably in a first-class carriage going to Portobello. He had 
a fast look, and was evidently haughtily aristocratic; but I was 
quite sure that he was the same who but a few minutes before 
had bought a third-class ticket; so, after thinking for a moment, 
I retired and prompted one of the men on the platform to go 
and ask him to show his ticket. The man came back in a 
moment — 

" Says he got a third-class ticket in mistake, and will pay the 
difference at Portobello," was the message he brought back; 
whereupon I conceived a longing for Portobello as irresistible 
as it was in the happy boyhood days when I had to trudge to 
it in the broiling sun on barefoot. Accordingly I got into the 
carriage along with my genteel acquaintance, and tried to draw 
him into conversation. At first he was both haughty and shy. 
but he thawed by degrees, and then, to my surprise, he inci- 
dently mentioned that he was the son of a gentleman of higb 
standing in the city whom I knew perfectly, and who was 
wealthy enough to keep both a town and a country house. 
There was such a striKlng similarity in his features to those of 
the gentleman he named, that I had not the slightest doubt of 
the truth of the statement, which trade my hopes of a capture 
sink suddenly to zero. 

"What an ass I have been to come away on this slight clue!" 
vyas my exasperated thought as we neared Portobello. " Com- 
" s c- v 



306 A WOMAN'S LOVE. 

ing down here, while the real smasher is doubtless laughing at 
me up yonder ! " 

The secret of my movement in that direction of course was 
that the description given by Turnbull tallied pretty closely 
with that of the man before me; but the more I talked with 
my companion the less hopeful I became. 

I parted with him at Portobello, and was so out of temper 
with myself that I did not even leave the station; I merely 
waited till the train was gone, and then turned to the booking- 
office to ask a ticket for Edinburgh. There was a considerable 
crowd already there and being served, and I had to wait my 
turn. What was my surprise, then, to notice that the second 
man before me in the slowly moving file of ticket-seekers was 
my new acquaintance in light tweeds, Mr Albert Milne ! 

" Strange that he too should return by the very first train ? " 
I thought, and then he was before the window, and I heard 
him say, " Edinburgh — First-Class." With something ap- 
proaching to rudeness, I crushed forward over the intending 
passenger as he laid down a coin in payment; saw that the 
coin was yellow, and representing a half-sovereign; and with a 
sudden remorseless push and jostle I struggled past the person 
before me, and grabbed at coin and gentleman at the same 
moment. 

There was a commotion at once; and Mr Milne turned 
upon me with a look of surprise and indignation which made 
me fervently hope that I was not making a-fnistake. 

"Well? What is the matter?" he asked, without trying to 
disengage himself. 

My answer was to examine the coin closely. It was of the 
same make, date, and appearance as those already in our 
hands. I drew a long breath of relief, and said sternly — 

" You are trying to pass a bad half-sovereign. It's a mere 
bit of tin or lead gilt over — see ! " and I doubled it between my 
finger and thumb. 

" Is it? Well, that's not surprising — there's a deal of that 
floating about just now;" and he quietly thrust his hand into 
his pocket and brought out a half-crown, which he tossed 
down. " That is not bad, surely ? " 

I nodded to the ticket clerk to give him the ticket and 
change, after I had looked at the coin; and while he was pick- 
ing it up I quietly snapped a handcuff on his wrist. Then he 
started round with a tug that nearly dislocated my own wrist, 
and with blazing eyes and a baited look which would have 



A WOMAN'S LOVE. 307 

frightened many, but which were only pleasing to me. reveal- 
ing as they did the fact that his former calmness had been 
assumed. 

"How dare you, you scoundrel !" he shouted. "Unfasten 
that thing, or I'll throttle you where you stand ! " 

I did not obey, but merely whistled to one of the county 
police in attendance. He did not throttle me either, seeing 
the man lent me his truncheon in a moment, but he still 
struggled a little, and then cried out — 

"What authority have you to treat a gentleman thus?" 

I put my disengaged hand into my waistcoat-pocket, and 
produced my silver-crowned staff of authority, and at the 
same moment some one in the crowd uttered the words — " It's 
M'Govan — it's Jamie M'Govan," and my prisoner became 
quieter in an instant. 

" But — but, my dear sir, this is most preposterous," he said, 
as soon as he could speak, and with an attempt at a smile. 
" I hope you don't imagine for a moment that I am responsible 
for the coin being bad ? " 

I had no opinion to offer; and he went on pleading, and pro- 
testing, and enumerating his position and wealthy connections, 
till the Portobello Police Station was reached. 

We searched him there to the very boots and stockings, but 
found no base money in his possession, when he again renewed 
his protestations, and demanded to be set free, or for us to 
telegraph to his father, or do anything to save him the disgrace 
of entering Edinburgh a manacled prisoner. He threatened 
us, too, with the direst reprisals that the law could inflict, but it 
was all mere wasted talk. His very energy and excitement 
convinced me of his guilt. An innocent man would have 
been quiet and even jocular. 

The only puzzling thing was how a gentleman of means 
should be engaged in such a daring crime. Another thing 
gave me some concern — namely, how we were to bring the 
crime home to him. I was keenly disappointed in finding no 
base money in his possession. Had he been a professional 
smasher I should not have been a bit astonished, as they an; 
only too careful in that respect; but with a clumsy amateur, 
who evidently made his own " sinker " as well as passed it, it 
was surprising. Ey speaking to the guard, I was allowed a 
separate compartment of a first-class carriage to convey him to 
Edinburgh. He appeared very dejected and all but ferocious 
in his demeanour; so silent did he become latterly, that I 



308 A WOMAN'S LOVE. 

began to wish myself and him safe within the Lock-up walls, 
almost sure that he meditated something desperate. When 
we approached Edinburgh he was still sullen ; but though we 
had to pass through the Calton tunnel I had no fear of him 
trying to escape, as his wrist was fastened securely to my own. 
I cannot say that I was conscious of any movement while W4 
were in the profound darkness, but the moment we emerged 
into the light I noticed that his boots were off. 

"Hullo! were you thinking of making a jump for it?" I 
asked, picking up one of the boots and looking about for the 
other. 

" Yes, and I should have made it too, if we'd been a moment 
longer in the tunnel," he answered, with apparent recklessness. 

"Where's the other boot?" I asked, after trying to shovM 
that such a jump would have been almost certain death. 

"Look for it," was the surly reply; and, rather nettled, I 
made him put on the one, saying coolly — 

" You've thrown it out, but that's nothing to me. I'll get it 
again. Only I thought you might like to have two boots on 
when walking to the Office." 

" I won't walk. Good God, it would kill me ! I can pay 
for a cab," he frantically returned ; but to show him that two 
could play at cross purposes, I insisted on my point, and he 
had to walk, hand-cuffed to me, with his one boot off, a police- 
man on the other side, and a great shouting and jeering crowd 
in his wake. The booking-clerk at the station had already 
failed to identify him in any way, and my sole hope now lay 
in the prisoner Turnbull. As soon as we reached the Office I 
had a number of men in plain clothes ranged in line, and Mr 
Albert Milne placed among them. Then Turnbull was brought 
in, but he picked out the wrong man, evidently because we had 
put on him a suit of light tweeds like that of Milne. The fact 
is, I believe that Turnbull had not taken much notice of the 
man's face at the station, little dreaming that such a case would 
spring from it. Again I was disappointed, and I tried strenu- 
ously to discover where Milne lived, but all in vain. He wrote 
out an urgent appeal to his father to help him out of an absurd 
charge of passing bad money; but this appeal, though I took 
the trouble to deliver it in person, brought no response. The 
note was taken from me by a stately footman, but in a short 
time he brought it back, with the stiff intimation that — "There 
was no answer." I was so dumbfounded that I put one or two 
questions to the man, from which I discovered that Albert 



A WOMAN'S LOVE. 309 

Milne was the prodigal son of the family, and had long since 
been cast off and disowned by all his relatives. The man 
could not say how he lived or existed ; believed he had money 
of some kind, if it wasn't all spent, but couldn't say anything 
about it. In short, he plainly hinted that my questions were 
not agreeable, and showed me to the door. After much hunt- 
ing and ferreting I did at last discover his lodging, but only to be 
told that the place had been visited a day or two before by a 
" young lady, very sad-looking and concerned," who had paid all 
the debts due there by Milne, and taken away all his curious 
"tools and things." Again I was nearly crazed with chagrin 
and disappointment, and I actually began to fear that the 
failures could have but one ending — the release of the guilty 
man. As a last faint hope I had the Calton tunnel searched 
for the missing boot, but it could not be found. 

A day or two later I was called upon by a young girl — she 
did not look above twenty, she was so sweet-faced and gentle 
in her manner, though I understand she was a year or two 
older. She was plainly dressed, and frankly told me that she 
was engaged as governess with a family in town. 

" My name is Catherine Spence," she said, after a painful 
pause, during which she blushed painfully, and appeared greatly 
agitated. " I am a friend of Mr Milne, who has been arrested 
on a charge of passing bad money — indeed, we were once — 
once engaged to be married ; " and then she gave way and cried 
bitterly for some minutes. " They have all turned against him 
but me," she said, after the fit was over, "but I know him 
better than any one ; if he had only been kindly treated he 
would never have gone wrong. He may be weak and foolish 
in some things, but he is a noble fellow at heart." 

"But they say that he robbed his own father," I gravely 
'emarked. 

" That is only the cruel way they put it," she eagerly returned. 
"The money was actually his own portion which his father 
was keeping back." 

"That may be; but I have been told also that he was 
dastardly enough to engage himself to marry a wealthy young 
lady, and the moment he got all her money settled on himself, 
squandered it, and never married her after all." 

" That was myself," sadly returned the generous young girl; 
" but he was hard pressed with bills of money lenders, who 
threatened him awfully the moment the money was his." 

" And he made you poor ?" I said, looking into her beautiful 



310 A WOMAN'S LOVE. 

face with an irrepressible thrill of emotion. " He took from 
you your all, and yet you defend him?" 

" I love him," she simply responded. " 1 gave him my 
heart four long years ago, and it will be his as long as God lets 
it beat. If I could lay it under his head to make him comfort- 
able, I would do it now." 

Something like the moisture in her eyes crept into my own. 
I was effectually silenced, but I could not help pitying the 
poor girl in her unswerving devotion to one who at every turn 
in my inquiries seemed revealed in a baser light. 

"I admire your spirit," I said at length, "but I'm sorry to 
see such love thrown away on a scoundrel." 

" That's because to you he seems a criminal only; to me he 
is the foundation of my life — all I build my hopes upon." 

"Your hopes?" I echoed, with ill-concealed surprise. "Is 
it possible you have still hope of him?" 

" God has given me it; and I do not believe He gave it to 
mock me," she said, with clasped hands. " I am certain 
Albert will rise to a nobler life yet; if he is only not crushed 
now — now when he is so young and impressionable. That has 
brought me here. I do not come to bribe you. Oh, Mr 
M'Govan, I know something of your skill, and I know also 
that you would spurn such an offer. But if you are strong — if 
God has given you great skill in searching out evidence and 
doing your duty — surely He has given you also a merciful 
heart. Will you be merciful for once? Will you not press 
your advantage too hard? Will you give him some chance to 
escape the actual brand of a felon ? " 

In giving an outline of the devoted girl's words, I can convey 
but a faint impression of her moving eloquence. It is very 
easy looking back on such a scene to say " Pooh, pooh! mercy? 
the thing is absurd;" but at the moment it made a sore tug at 
my heart. I could make no promise of the kind, but I actually 
did show mercy in a way. I had little doubt, after I had got 
rid of my visitor, that she and the young lady who had visited 
Milne's lodging and removed all his rude coining implements 
were one person. I could have easily ferreted out the truth, 
and possibly have forced her into the witness-box against her 
lover; but I held back the suspicion as a last resource. A 
skilled agent was sent in to conduct Milne's case, and he 
battled me hard on the subject of a remand, saying that I had 
no evidence whatever against the " gentleman," and stoutly 
demanding his release, on bail at least. I, however, assured 



A WOMAN'S LOVE. 311 



the Sheriff that I had the very best of evidence of the guilt of 
the accused, but that it was not yet presentable, and my word 
carried the day. I alluded to what I thought was a trump card 
— namely, the removal of the criminating implements from his 
lodgings; but, as chance had it, and as I had fondly trusted, 
that card was never needed. 

The day after his remand, another of the bad half-sovereigns 
was brought to the Office by a provision dealer in the Canon- 
gate, and this man gave the name and address of the people he 
had got it from, at the same time saying that " they were worth 
looking after." 

I went to the house indicated, and found in it, in possession 
of the woman, ten counterfeit half-sovereigns of the same make 
and date. On questioning the woman as to where they came 
from, she was at first sullen and secretive, but when I ordered 
her to pack up and come with me, she admitted that her 
" man " was a platelayer in the Calton tunnel, and that he had 
found them in a boot which he had picked up on the sideway. 
I got her to produce the boot, when she at once turned out a 
cork sole which was inside, on the under side of which had 
been cut a dozen round holes exactly the size of half-a- 
sovereign — into which, indeed, the coins fitted tightly and 
neatly, leaving not a trace of their presence when the sole was 
inserted in the boot. The boot, as may be expected, on being 
compared with that of Milne, was found to be its fellow — 
though the other cork sole was sound and intact. The last 
link in the evidence was now supplied, and as Turnbull now 
swore most positively to Milne as the man who gave him the 
two coins in exchange for his pound, we had a clear case for 
the jury. 

The charge of coining was never gone into, but that of 
" uttering " was clearly established, and the position and 
education of the prisoner, far from being a help to him at his 
trial, were heavily against him. After a severe reprimand 
from the presiding Judge, he was sentenced to seven years' 
penal servitude. 

Even then Catherine Spence leant over the dock and clasped 
him with both hands — not weeping, as I had expected, but 
looking as bright and cheering as an angel from heaven — till 
he was drawn from her and hurried out of sight, when she 
dropped like a log and was carried out insensible. 

And thus during the whole of his incarceration she con- 
tinued, bright, cheering, and loving; doing her duty to all 



312 A WOMAN'S LOVE. 

around her; carefully saving every penny of her salary not 
tetually needed to clothe her, and regularly forwarding to him 
it the proper intervals, not a letter, but a complete diary of her 
thoughts and feelings every day of her life. The perusal of 
this reflex of her life, the Governor has assured me, would have 
melted a heart of stone. Milne's heart, though depraved 
enough, was not exactly stone; and about the third year, the 
devotion of this angelic woman began to produce some effect 
on his mind and life. His whole conduct, demeanour, and 
thoughts became changed; the bitter tone vanished like magic 
from his letters ; and he now declared that the greatest bless- 
ing of his life had been his capture and imprisonment, as they 
alone had revealed to him this loving girl's true worth. 

I fully expected that all this would change when he was set 
free, but I was mistaken. When nearly six years were gone 
he was liberated. Catherine Spence was at the prison-gate to 
receive him, to put her arms about his neck and kiss the stain 
of crime from his brow. They were married, and with her 
little savings left the country together. If I told how nobly 
he has redeemed his character in the new country, I should 
only reveal an identity I am anxious to conceal. He will 
never return to this country, but has long since been fully 
reconciled to his father and friends; and his whole redemption 
lie owes to a woman's love. 



BORN TO CRIME. 313 



BORN TO CRIME. 

Mr Barclay was one of those who think that crime is to 
be rooted out by plunging boldly into its haunts and distribut- 
ing tracts, with here and there a word of advice and warning, 
or timely assistance in distress. He was a quiet, good man, 
of a subdued religious tendency, who spent a deal of time and 
money in this way, and, if he accomplished little good, he at 
least did no harm. Real criminals only laughed at him as a 
harmless "gospel grinder," or violently slammed the door in 
his face, lighting their pipes with the tracts he thrust under- 
neath. Indeed, to apply such an influence to criminals, as I 
always insisted to him, is like trying to soothe a raging tooth 
with laudanum when the decayed and pestiferous stump calls 
for the dentist's forceps as the only remedy. 

Poor Mr Barclay! I believe that to the end he thought n 2 
slightly irreverent because I smiled at most of his efforts, but, 
to show that he was mistaken, I shall here give a curious case 
which proves that all his efforts were not made in vain. 

About ten o'clock at night, Mr Barclay was moving up a 
narrow close leading to North College Street — the same in 
which was the den of our esteemed acquaintance, Mr William 
Pike, noticed in a previous sketch (p. 267) — having been 
detained to that hour at the bedside of a dying woman. 

Mr Barclay was in a meditative mood, and moved up the 
close but slowly, with his hands clasped behind him on the 
Bible he had been using, and his eyes half closed, when he was 
suddenly aroused by a ferocious blow in the stomach, and a 
tug at his watch chain. The blow took his breath away, and sent 
him staggering back against the nearest wall, and by the time he 
looked round the assailant had dashed down the close and van- 
ished. Then he discovered that his watch and chain — both valu- 
able gold ones — were gone. There was only one lamp near the 
spot, and by its dim light he had been just able to decide that 
his assailant was a powerful and lithe-bodied fellow of middle 
age. Not another soul was in sight, and, strange to say. after 
the first shock was over, Mr Barclay was glad of the fact. 



314 BORN TO CRIME. 

" How fortunate that I was not garroted and my purse taken 
as well !" was his first reflection. " The man is a stranger, too, 
I'm certain, or he would never have robbed me. They may 
laugh at me, and annoy me, but they would never rob me. On 
the whole, though the watch and chain are gone, I have much 
to be thankful for. It was wrong of me to put such a temptation 
in their way." 

Nothing here, it will be seen, of an intention to inform the 
police of the robbery, and have the stolen goods traced, if 
possible. Not only had he peculiar views against going to 
law, but, secretly, he dreaded being laughed at for getting into 
a scrape against which we had often warned him. 

" M'Govan might get me the watch and chain, but he would 
get me the thief too, and perhaps force me to rivet a convict's 
chain upon him for life," was his thought as he hurried up the 
close to get out of the dangerous quarter. " If I sent but one 
of the misguided beings to prison, it would weaken my hold 
upon them ever after. I will bear it in silence." 

North College Street at that time was quite a narrow street, 
having little traffic in it, and was a good deal infested by swarms 
of ragamuffins from the closes below, to say nothing of pests 
of older growth. When Mr Barclay emerged into it from the 
narrow and steep close in which he had been robbed, he came 
full upon a group of these gutter waifs deeply absorbed in a 
game of pitch and toss on the smooth macadamised road. 
They had taken advantage of the light of the nearest lamp, 
and had their " pitch " right across the road. Just as Mr 
Barclay paused, they were clustered in the centre of the road 
wrangling fiercely over some dispute in the game, and swearing 
quite as volubly as if they had been men instead of children. 
Mr Barclay had fully resolved to pause and rebuke the juvenile 
profanity, when a flying cab, turning the corner at a terrific 
pace, took the task out of his hands by crashing down on the 
fierce group, and scattering them without warning. All the 
boys but one managed to wriggle aside, but this exception 
slipped his foot and was among the horses' feet in an instant. 

Some persons seeing an accident of this kind instinctively 
jump back and hold their breath, or avert their heads ; others 
fly forward, and before they know anything are into the thick 
of the danger in an attempt to save. Quiet and subdued 
though he was in general, Mr Barclay was of this nature, and 
the boy was scarcely down when the hand of the gentleman 
was on him. The horses' hoofs in a wild splatter, rained blows 



BORN TO CRIME. 315 

about them both, as it was reared up on its haunches by the 
terror-stricken driver, but the wheels were checked in time, 
and, though both were bleeding and bruised, the boy's life was 
saved. 

Mr Barclay was helped to the side with the boy hanging 
limp and senseless in his arms, and then the Infirmary close 
by was naturally suggested for both. Though hurt himself, Mr 
Barclay would not relinquish his charge, but carried the boy 
across the Bridge and down to the Surgical Hospital himself, 
and not till the dirty little fellow's broken arm had been set, 
and his bleeding head bound up, did he even hint at his own 
injuries. These were chiefly bruises and bumps; and after a 
close examination of his swollen hand, the doctor was able to 
decide that no bones were broken, and that the brave old man 
might go home in a cab. 

The boy rescued looked almost an old man in features, but 
he was in reality only eight. His name, he said, was Billy 
Gouger, and he had no particular home — just where his father 
took him. Billy was grateful, in a way, for being saved so 
promptly, and expressed the feeling in a queer fashion. When 
Mr Barclay promised to come and see him next day, he warmly 
clasped the proffered hand in his uninjured paw, and said 
generously — ?,, 

" I'll stand you reading bibles, or tracts, or anything to me, 
sir — I'll stand anything from you, though it's ever so bad." 

Mr Barclay went home more sad and depressed about the 
boy's condition than about either of their bodily injuries. 
There was a manifest cunning and reticence about the child's 
answers which pointed but too clearly to one inference — his 
father was a professional criminal, and the less that was said 
about him and his doings the better for the boy's safety and 
wellbeing. Billy would grow up to the same life, and the life 
Mr Barclay had thus saved would be devoted to every phase oi 
rascality that was likely to pay — the very hand which was 
clasping his own in transient gratitude might yet be raised to 
take his life. He was not so sure, after all, if he had done a 
good action in saving the boy. 

Thinking, however, did not improve the matter ; but next 
morning, true to his promise, he called at the Infirmary, and 
found Billy as well as could be expected, and likely to be 
allowed out of the place in a few days, though his broken arm 
would take a week or two to mend. With uncommon tact the 
old man produced neither Bible nor tracts, but instead talked 



316 BORN TO CRIME. 

long and kindly to the urchin about the life he led and the 
future before him, all of which Billy endured with praiseworthy 
patience. But when the proposal came to go into the Industrial 
School and be made an honest man of, Billy struck out most 
stoutly. He couldn't and wouldn't go against his father's 
wishes ; his father would kill him if he tried it ; and he didn't 
want to be killed. 

Just then the father, in the person of Sam Gouger, appeared 
at the bedside. He had heard only that morning of the 
accident, and had run all the way in great excitement to the 
Infirmary, as the version of the story he had received was that 
the boy was dying. The moment matters were explained to him 
at the bedside by the nurse of the ward, he drew a long breath 
of relief, wiped the sweat from his brow, and said to his son — 

"You young villain, wait till you're better, and I'll break 
every bone in your body !" 

Then he noticed for the first time the gentleman who had 
sated his son's life, and was about to frame a few words of 
thanks, when he was observed by Mr Barclay to start violently, 
and suddenly become dumb, with his eyes almost jumping 
from their sockets as they remained chained to that gentleman's 
mild and pleasing features. 

"Well, I'm d— d! I didn't look for this!" he at length 
managed to blurt out in a hoarse and half-choked whisper. 

" We have met before, I daresay," said Mr Barclay, with a 
kindly smile and nod. " Perhaps you've seen me visiting 
about some of the closes ?" 

" Oh, don't mention it," slowly gasped Gouger, with a violent 
effort. •• It ain't worth while speakin' of it. I — I thought I'd 
see another kind of cove altogether. I'm very much obliged 
to you for saving the boy's life, though ; may I be blanked 
into the blankest blank if I'm not — there!" And while he 
uttered these words in a fearfully earnest tone, he seized the 
hand of the gentleman and wrung it till it ached. "Ye see I 
like the little varmint — it's nateral I should, seeing he's the 
only one I've got, and there ! I'm sorry — blanked sorry — I 
mean glad — blow me if I know what I'm saying! Well, I 
deserve seven years for it — I'm blanked if I don't!" 

"I'm sure you're heartily welcome to the little service I was 
enabled to render," responded Mr Barclay; " but in reality you 
owe it more to an accident which detained me a little longer 
in the close than I had expected. I was assaulted and robbed 
a moment or two before." 



BORN TO CRIME. 317 

" Imphm — yes — I think I know something about that," said 
Gouger, in abject confusion and shame. "And the man that 
did it deserves to be burned alive — scarified with a red-hot 
poker — that's about it ! " 

" Oh, nonsense !" exclaimed the old gentleman, in kindly 
demur. "I've no doubt he'll reproach himself for it some 
day; but it shows us how an apparent misfortune sometimes 
turns out a great blessing." 

" A great — a very great blessing," echoed Gouger, with a 
painful gasp, as if each word choked him. "And you lost 
something, I daresay — a watch, maybe, and a chain?" 

'• I did, indeed ; but I don't regret the loss now " 

" Well, I'll try to get them back for you," said Sam Gouger, 
with remarkable firmness and determination. " Mind, I don't 
say I'll manage it, 'cause that unnateral brute that did it," — and 
he doubled up his fists and hit himself violently on the breast, 
for want of a better mark, as it seemed — " that villain would 
most likely take them straight to a fence, and get so much for 
them. Then, most likely, all he got. or nearly all, will be spent 
by this time ; and how the dickens is he to get it back without 
money !" 

" I purposely refrained from informing the police of the loss, 
for fear I might have to appear as witness against the thief, and 
perhaps be the means of imprisoning him for life," said Mr 
Barclay, in explanation ; and he then went on to explain the 
nature of his work among the lapsed classes, all of which made 
Gouger groan aloud, as if suddenly smitten with contrition for 
the wickedness of the class to which he belonged. 

'• Influence be blowed ! " he said, with energy. " I'd have 
set M'Govan after the villain the very minute I was robbed. 
What a softy you are, to be sure ! and he gave you a punch in 
the stomick, too! Well, I hope that watch and chain'll burn 
into him night and day till you gets them back again." 

After expressing himself in many such forcible speeches as 
these, Sam Gouger shook Mr Barclay by the hand and took his 
departure, still squaring out at an imaginary thief as he went, 
and always turning the blows in upon his own breast. As soon 
as he was outside the Infirmary gate, he walked slowly and 
meditatively up to a high land of houses in the Lawnmarket, 
and presented himself at the business premises of a fence called 
David Binnie. 

" Sent that watch and chain away yet, Dave ? " he inquiringly 
began 



3i8 BORN TO CRIME. 

Now Dave was a man of caution, and never committed him- 
self in any answer he made. 

" Why ? " 

" 'Cause I want you to let's have them back again, and I'll 
make it up to you in some other way, seeing as the money's all 
done," said Gouger. " I find I took them — by mistake — from a 
kind cove that goes about doin' good, and who saved little 
Billy's life not ten minutes After." 

" That's too thin," said \ ave sharply. " I wonder you'd try 
them tricks on an old hand like me. If the old cove's so good, 
let him stump up ten pounds for the two, and it's a bargain. 
I don't say I have them still by me, but I can get them, I dare- 
say, if the money's brought." 

" I couldn't ask him — I'd sooner set M'Govan on to you 
and your little doings, and stand seven years for it myself," 
said Gouger, with a calmness that alarmed the fence. " I'd be 
a brute if I let him lose by it — but you ? You're able to stand 
a little loss out of what you've made off me. So speak fair and 
do the best you can, or I'm blowed if you don't go to prison wi' 
me!" 

" I'm not afraid of you," defiantly returned the fence. " It 
won't be seven, but fourteen years you'll get, first time your 
nabbed, mind that! Fourteen years?" he meditatively added, 
with deep cunning, as if pondering the position for the first 
time. " Why, you'll be quite an old man when you come out 
again." 

This delicate allusion had the effect of silencing Gouger. He 
knew what prison was, for he had spent exactly two-thirds of 
his life in it, and, despite its comforts, its regular meals, whole- 
some regimen, and comfortable beds, he loathed it with all his 
strength, and would have fought like a tiger to preserve his liberty. 
But though his tongue was stopped, his thoughts were not. He 
was not an ordinary criminal, inasmuch as he had some educa- 
tion, and could read, and write, and cipher with remarkable 
skill, as many a charitably-disposed person, to whom his mov- 
ing appeals were addressed, had found to their cost. In a kind of 
sense of honour he felt bound to restore the watch and chain as 
he had promised — at least to make every possible effort to do so. 
Under ordinary circumstances, he might have risked another 
robbery and released the articles by the proceeds, but Gouger 
had been threatened by a miserable and greedy fence, and 
therefore Gouger was angry and exasperated. 

He left the house of the fen<?e pondering deeply the position, 



BORN TO CRIME. 319 



and, after slowly traversing a street or two, suddenly exclaimed 
to himself — ■ 

" I'll do it— I'll do it ! " 

He proceeded to execute his plan with great coolness and 
deliberation. His first step was to get hold of a needy acquaint- 
ance, whom he primed well with drink and promises, and in 
the evening this man appeared at the den of the fence, and on 
some pretext induced him to adjourn for a few minutes to a 
drinking den further down the street, where a glass of strong 
raw whisky, well drugged with laudanum, soon laid him asleep 
on the bench. Gouger, who was watching the whole proceed- 
ing unseen, no sooner saw him doze off into slumber, than he 
went to the nearest green and stole a clothes rope, upon which 
J. wouldn't have risked my life for a world of solid silver. He 
then proceeded to the Lawnmarket, and carefully took the 
bearings of the fence's home from below. The two rooms were 
one storey from the top of the high land, and a crazy chimney 
stack graced the roof not far from the line of the windows. 

" If I'm nabbed I can't get no more than I would get if I 
peached on Dave," was Gouger's mode of reasoning; "but 
this way I've a chance both to get the things and get off scot 
free, for he'll never be such a fool as to kick up a rumpus 
about it. It wouldn't be good for his health, and, besides, I'm 
not to be taken easily this time." 

Up to the top of the likeliest stair went Gouger, and, as 
burglaries were not frequent in that quarter, he had no dif- 
ficulty in getting on to the roof by a loosely secured hatch. 
Then he sat down on the slates and unwound the rope from 
his body, fastening one end securely to the chimney stack, and 
allowing the other to droop over the edge of the roof. A 
slater or plumber could not have been more cool or easy in a 
task of the kind. Gouger did not even fasten the rope round 
his waist, in case of his hands slipping, but quietly slid over 
the edge of the building, and in a moment was hanging by the 
hands eight or nine storeys from the ground. He had but a 
short distance to descend, but the moment his feet touched the 
sill of Dave's window he gave a curse, and stood still in dis- 
may. There was no light within but that of the fire, but near 
this he saw, reclining asleep, a man whom he knew too well as 
the brother of the fence. 

" Blast my stupidity, if I haven't bungled the job after all ! " 
he exclaimed, with teeth set in ferocious excitement and 
chagrin. "He's left Pate to watch wh-'Ie he was away, and 



320 BORN TO CRIME. 

the moment I touch the window he'll up and holler for help. 
Well, I can't go back now — it's got to be done, even though Tve 
to croak him;" and he very quietly got out his long-bladed clasp 
knife, opened it, and placed it crosswise in his mouth, while 
he gently raised the sash of the window, with his eyes fixed 
intently upon the sleeping man. The moment the window was 
raised, a current of cold air rushed in on the face of the sleep- 
ing man, and he opened his eyes and started up just as 
Gouger sprang in and pinned him with his strong hands. 
There was no shouting on either side — only a sharp exclama- 
tion and a string of subdued curses as they grappled together, 
and rolled over and over on the floor. The danger Gouger 
had run on entering the place had given the adventure a spice 
of interest to him, but it had also roused that desperate excite- 
ment which yearly sends a house-breaker or two to the gallows 
as red-handed murderers. 

Gouger was a powerful fellow, who, when he chose to exert 
himself in prison, took six warders to master him. The 
brother of the fence, on the other hand, was a mere drunken 
loafer, with muscles soft as putty, and no more strength than a 
torn cat. After a fierce wriggle or two Gouger struggled up- 
most, and pinning the wriggling wretch to the floor with one 
hand, quickly took from his teeth the long knife, and pressed 
its point down on the region of the other's heart. 

" Dave has set you to watch his hide, and I'm come to take 
two things out of it — two things, mark you, and no more," he 
fiercely whispered in the man's ear. " Is it to be a croaking 
business or not? Whichever you like — it's all the same to me 
— but I must have the gospel grinder's watch and chain." 

"I'll give in — take what you like," stuttered the prostrate 
man; and Gouger at once put his willingness to the test by 
turning him over on his face and tying his wrists together with 
strong twine — much more secure and painful to bear than 
rope. 

He then performed the same operation on the man's ancles, 
and afterwards generously helped him to the chair he had 
vacated on being awakened. The hide of the fence was in 
the floor, and Gouger coolly inserted the point of his knife in 
the board covering it, and laid bare the interesting collection 
of valuables and tools. More than one watch was there keep- 
ing that of Mr Barclay company, secure of not visiting the 
melting-pot beside which they reposed, and only waiting a fit- 
ting opportunity for visitine; some distant city Gouger could 



BORN TO CRIME. 321 

have taken the whole as easily as the single watch and broken 
chain, and one would imagine he might as well have done so 
as commit another robbery a day or two later at some other 
place. But he had ideas of his own, and took the articles he 
had come for and no more. 

"Tell Dave it was Sam Gouger that took them, and that he 
doesn't mean to pay for them, and that he thinks Dave should 
send M'Govan after him," were his parting words to the bound 
guardian of the hide; and then he unbarred and un-Iocked the 
door and vanished, leaving the rope still dangling from the 
chimney-stack above. He had to go to the Infirmary to get 
Mr Barclay's address, so it was past midnight when he arrived 
at that gentleman's house, and considerably astonished the 
household by saying that he must see him. When he did 
appear, that gentleman was astonished to see his rough-looking 
visitor produce from his pocket the gold watch and chain so 
violently wrenched from him a night or two before. 

" I thought I could get it, if I tried desperate hard," said 
Gouger lightly, " and I managed it, though it was a tougher 
job than I looked for. I was near croaking a fellow, but, 
luckily for him, he gave in, and I've brought them to you safe 
and sound, except a break in the chain, which you'll get put 
right for twopence or threepence." 

Mr Barclay received his treasured watch and gazed at the 
strange visitor with a full heart, and scarcely knowing whether 
to smile or cry. 

" You are a noble fellow," he said at last, wringing Gouger's 
hand with impulsive warmth. "Look you, Gouger — you're fit 
for better things than a mere prowling vagabond and thief, 
liable to be seized at any moment. Say the word and I'll get 
you work — a good post — a position of respectability and trust 
with friends of my own, in a place where no one could possibly 
know anything of your past life. It is a shame that the world 
should be robbed of such energy and manliness ! " 

The man was moved — possibly more deeply than he cared 
to show, for he did not speak for a moment or two, and when 
he did, his voice was thick and hoarse with emotion; but his 
answer was none the less firm and prompt. 

"I thank you, sir, from the bottom of my heart, for the offer. 
It is the first time such kindness has been shown me," he said, 
in a tone so strangely softened that he seemed for the time a 
different man; "but I cannot accept it — I dare not. Think 
what I am, and have been. My father, my grandfather, my 
s.c. x 



322 BORN TO CRIMM. 

mother, her mother, my sisters and brothers — all my relatives 
have been professional thieves. We were trained to it from 
infancy; we have known no other life — thieving and robbery 
are part of my being, as much as my bones and flesh. I could 
not shake it off now. I would only disgrace you, and show 
the most atrocious ingratitude in return for your kindness. 1 
could not be honest though I would" 

Protests and reasoning on the part of Mr Barclay were alike 
useless. Gouger heard them all respectfully, but firmly re- 
peated his answer, and left the house The next time Mr 
Barclay saw him he was in prison. 

Dave Binnie, the fence, was furious when he returned to his 
place in the morning and got news of the daring robbery by 
Gouger. He could not safely denounce Gouger for that, but 
he happened to know the particulars of another robbery in 
which Gouger had taken a leading part, and these he lost no 
time in placing before me. I picked up Gouger in the In- 
firmary, to which he had gone with a jelly-cake to his boy; and, 
contrary to his usual practice, he made no resistance, and the 
four men I had taken with me were not required. Indeed, 
Gouger seemed strangely quiet and subdued, though he 
promptly denounced Dave, and revealed all the particulars of 
the case as I have put them down. The consequence was 
that, though Dave had carefully emptied his hide, and nailed 
the board firmly in its place in the floor, I found enough 
evidence in the place to justify me in detaining him. Much 
to my delight, Gouger was accepted as evidence against the 
fence, who got five years for his share in the affair. As for 
Gouger, he was not benefited in the least, for he was still 
" wanted : ' for the other affair, and had, besides, to serve out 
part of a previous sentence, making his sentence equal to 
nearly fourteen years' penal. Before lie was transferred to the 
Penitentiary he sent for Mr Barclay, and after warmly thanking 
him for the interest he had shown in him, referred to the boy 
Billy. 

" I meant him for a thief, and had no doubt I'd make him 
a good one," he said; "but, somehow, your words have got 
into my head, and I think, on the whole, it's not a paying 
trick. I think, too, that Billy's sharp enough for some* 
thing better, on the square. I'm too old to change, but 
maybe you'd be good enough to try your hand on him. What- 
ever I say he's to do he'll go in for ; so you'd find him willing 
enough." 



BORN TO CRIME. 323 

The result of this was that Billy, with his arm in a sling, was 
brought to see his father, and get the command from his own 
lips that henceforth he was to alter his life and go "on the 
square." 

" You'll maybe never see me again, Billy," said the father, 
as he concluded, " and if I live out my sentence you'll be in a 
different line, all nicely togged out and respectable, so you 
must take no notice of me, but just pass me on the street 
same as I was dirt." 

" I won't, I'm blowed if I will ! " howled Billy, with a torrent 
of tears. 

" I say you shall; and my word's law," sternly returned the 
father, with a ferocious look that quite altered the expression 
of his face, and Billy was cowed at once, and promised im- 
plicit obedience. He went into the Industrial School the day 
after; and he conducted himself well, and steadily rose till he 
became a missionary in one of the worst parts of London, 
where, curious to relate, his greatest hold on the lawless people 
among whom he labours has been acquired by him boldly ad- 
mitting that he is the son of a thief. Gouger died in prison 
before his sentence expired; but his last message to Billy was 
— " Keep on the square, Billy — keep on the square." 



324 A HOUSE WITH CRIMSON BLINDS. 



A HOUSE WITH CRIMSON BLINDS. 

It was in passing along a street close to Coates Crescent, 
about two o'clock in the morning, that I first noticed the 
house with crimson blinds,parricularly. I had seen it before, 
occupied by different tenants, and occasionally with the blinds 
down, and ticketed "To Let Furnished;" but upon this occa- 
sion it chanced to be the only house in a whole street with 
lighted windows, and I instinctively paused before it, wonder- 
ing a little at finding no waifs with rouged cheeks and sham 
smiles floating near it. A gay house it evidently was, for there 
were on the porch several gentlemen smoking cigars somewhat 
excitedly, but not a flutter of a ribbon or trace of a woman 
could I see near the place. This is not usual at ordinary 
respectable parties, and my resolve was to note the place and 
study its character at a future time. I had absolutely no ex- 
pectation that anything would come of my curiosity, and men- 
tion the circumstance, not to imply any particular acuteness on 
my part, but merely because it is the beginning of the case. 

A night or two after, I passed the house at a late hour and 
saw the same peculiarity — the blinds down, every window lit, 
and young gentlemen either at the porch or passing hastily in, 
and I began to form the opinion that it was a shebeen, which 
would be cunningly protected from the clutches of the law by 
some grandiloquent name of club or society. 

I was in the neighbourhood one morning shortly after, and 
turned into the street to have a look at the place by day. The 
hour was late, about eleven in the forenoon — yet the blinds 
were still down — with a difference. At one window, standing 
between the blind and the cold panes was a little girl of some 
three years, with curly yellow hair, leaning her brow on the 
glass, and quietly \veeping in her loneliness. To my mind 
weeping and crying are two very different things — the first 
being noiseless and the second all outcry. Happily, such 
grief is not often put upon childhood, and the very oddity of 
the circumstances made me stand and stare at the worn face 



A HOUSE WITH CRIMSON BLINDS. 325 

and tear-blinded eyes of the child. No one was near her — no 
one appeared to be stirring in the great house but herself, or to 
have struck her or injured her; yet there she was, looking 
wearily out on vacancy and weeping without restraint. 

" A gay house, with one young heart unhappy within its 
walls," was my mental comment. " I wonder what is the 
history of the occupants." 

While I stood looking, confident that the child, though look- 
ing straight forward, saw nothing of me — a hand, masculine and 
gentlemanly looking, with some gold rings on the fingers, came 
in on the golden head sharply, tugged it ruthlessly in by the 
hair, and I saw the child no more. Yet the picture lingered 
with me ; and in the hurry scurry of other matters, I found my 
mind often running back to the young face, so old in grief and 
care, and the taper fingers and iron grasp which had so swiftly 
tugged it from my sight. But even that was rubbed out 
shortly, and I soon ceased to think of either house or occu- 
pants. 

A month or so later, I was one forenoon introduced at the 
Central Office to a gentleman who refused to state his case 
fully to any one but the detective to whose care it was likely to 
be entrusted. As soon as we were alone, he placed an ordi- 
nary draper's " Bought of," bearing a Glasgow address, and the 
name " George Blake and Company," before me, saying with 
curious abruptness and some excitement — 

"That is my name, aud was my address, and I am just out 
of prison." 

" Out of prison?" I echoed with some surprise. " I under- 
stood that you wished to enter a charge of robbery." 

"And a jail bird, you think, cannot be robbed? "he said, 
with a sharp bitterness and increasing excitement. "The 
taint is on me, you suppose, and I can have no feelings, no 
wrongs, no injustice which call for your aid. Wait till you 
hear my story, and you will alter your tone." 

"You are hasty; but, pray, proceed," I quietly answered, 
and might have said more, but there he fiercely took me up. 

"Yes, hasty— that is the word for it," he hurriedly inter- 
posed. "That means passionate— soft— gullible — a fool, in 
fact. My wife— curse her, soul and body !— knew that, and 
played upon it, and here I am — a ruined, tainted man." 

"Was it she who robbed you?" I ventured to inquire. 

"Ay, it was she; but I could have forgiven that, had she not 
done worse." he answered, with his features twitching with the 



326 A HOUSE WITH CRIMSON BLINDS. 

effort to keep back tears. " When I married her four years 
ago there wasn't a happier or more prosperous man in Glasgow. 
She was pretty, came of a good family, and seemed a very 
angel to me, while I had a good business and a capital of 
about ^2000 clear cash. It was too good to last. I found, 
after a year or two, that she was vain as a peacock about her 
looks; would have emptied my shop with her insatiable desire 
for showy dresses and head-gear; and, what was worse, began 
to tipple slyly, under a plea that her health was poor and that 
the doctor had ordered her stimulants." 

" Ah, I can guess what is coming now," I said, as his hot 
breathed words were choked off in another anguished spasm. 

"You can't!" he violently answered. "It is worse than 
anything you can guess at for dastardly and cold-blooded 
cruelty. I thought that when she became a mother, her vanity 
would sober down a little, but she made as sorry a mother as 
she was a wife, leaving the child entirely to the care of servants, 
and gadding about everywhere — visiting theatres, attending 
parties, and even, I suspect, going to dancings and balls of 
which I knew nothing. I reasoned with her, checked her, 
restricted her by refusing to be responsible for her debts, but 
all in vain. They say there's an unsound sheep in every flock 
— I had by evil luck picked the faulty one of the family. One 
day a vague whisper roused me to action, and I watched her 
after she had left the house to me and my little girl; saw her 
with my own eyes go and meet a handsome-looking villain — a 
returned convict, for aught I know, but certainly a thief. Of 
course, I went up to him and knocked him down before her 
eyes, and then took her by the ear and kicked her half a street 
nearer home." 

"And so got yourself into trouble, I suppose?" 

•' Not then. The villain had some shame in him, for he 
slunk off like a whipped dog; but women are different. They 
make less outcry, perhaps, but they're thinking all the time, 
and planning how to repay the insult with interest." 

" Did she make any excuse?" 

" A thousand. By her showing she was the most innocent, 
and wronged, and suffering martyr in the world. The gentle- 
man, she said, was nobody but an acquaintance who had 
kindly agreed to conduct her to a friend's house, in which she 
had promised to spend the evening. I spoke of a divorce or 
separation, though, Heaven help me! I felt inclined for neither. 
I was anxious to believe her innocent, and so snatched at every 



A HOUSE WITH CRIMSON BLINDS. 327 



plausible lie as a godsend. But all the time she was planning 
my ruin. I suppose she knew that the thing would not much 
longer hide, and determined on a bold stroke. One night I 
saw, or thought I saw, the same handsome villain passing the 
house, and looking at it; but when I mentioned the circum- 
stance to her, she brazenly laughed at me, said it was probably 
he I had seen, and ended by daring me to lay a finger on 
her. The words were so venomously spoken that my hand 
itched to obey and fell her before me; but something like a 
devilish sparkle in her eye stayed my hand. I seemed to read 
mischief in the very glitter, and let my hand drop, simply say- 
ing that from that moment she must consider herself no longer 
my wife — a state of matters which I was resolved to confirm 
legally at the earliest opportunity. Then she became more 
maddened than if I had struck her, and screamed and shouted, 
and finally struck me. I held back no longer then, and even 
with my bairn in the room, threw out my fist and felled her 
with one blow. When she got up she made a great fuss, and 
as she was bleeding freely from the nose, looked worse than 
she really was. Her cries had attracted a great crowd, and the 
police coming in, she charged me with attempting to murder 
her by strangling her, taking a razor and threatening to kill, 
pulling her about by the hair, and finally dashing her head 
against the wall." 

" Which was false, I suppose ? " 

" False as Satan ! " hotly breathed Blake. " But what of 
that ? The police could act only upon the evidence — I am 
not blaming them. I was taken away, of course, and bail 
refused, as she swore she was in terror of her life; and next day 
when I was charged, and pled not guilty, didn't she bring a host 
of witnesses who saw the former assault, and among them hei 
handsome lover, the result being that I was sent to prison for 
thirty days without the option of a fine, the punishment being 
made heavy by her artfully begging the Court not to be too 
hard upon me, as I was her husband ! " 

"I have seen such cases, but not often." 

" But I have not done yet," excitedly pursued my visitor. 
" I thought that the worst was past; and, having resolved to 
procure a divorce as soon as I was set free, determined not to 
trouble myself about the temporary disgrace of confinement. 
I had it all planned — how I would go home straight from the 
prison and turn her out into the streets, and then defy her to 
interfere with me further, while. I took steps to secure a divorce. 



328 A HOUSE WITH CRIMSON BLINDS. 

I gloated over the thought— smiled at it — hugged myself in 
delight, but I forgot that I was dealing with a woman. When 
I was released I went to my place of business, and was horri- 
fied to find it shut, with bills pasted all over, announcing that 
the entire stock would be sold by auction on a day then a 
fortnight past. Then I went home, and found it also shut and 
empty, and then some neighbours told me that my wife had 
left the place, taking my bairn with her, and in company with 
a gentleman whom I had no difficulty in recognising as her 
former handsome admirer. I believe I went mad then; at 
least they tell me of mad things I did. Of course, I informed 
the police; but what could they do? I had on marriage con- 
stituted my wife a sleeping partner in my business, so that she 
might be able to carry it on if I should be ill or absent, and 
they would not interfere, unless I could prove that the man — 
the villain who led her off — had had a hand in the pie, and 
himself stolen something. I told them he had stolen all I 
possessed — my bairn, above all — my happiness, my life ; but 
they only looked pityingly, and said soothing things about see- 
ing into it, if I would have patience. Patience ! Oh, God ! 
how could I have patience when my bairn was stolen? The 
fiend of a woman might have run off, and welcome. She 
might even have robbed me unquestioned, but she might have 
left me my lassie — all I thought worth living for." 

" Have you never heard of them since ? " I inquired, after a 
pause to look away, so as to appear not to see his tears. 

" Never till yesterday, when I got a message from the 
Central Office in Glasgow, saying that a man answering the 
description had been seen in the city that day, and that he was 
known to have taken a railway ticket for Edinburgh. I went 
to the Office at once, where they were very kind and sympathis- 
ing — I was so much changed in the short time that they saw I 
had suffered — and then one of them, John Farrel by name, when 
I said I would come through here in the morning, told me to ask 
for you, and mention his name, and you would be sure to help 
me all in your power." 

" Ah, now I understand you," I said, smiling out at the child- 
like trust and wistful eagerness, " but no recommendation from 
Johnny is needed from you. Your haggard face and grey hairs 
have done more for you than any friend's word. It is written 
in your face that you have suffered." 

" I have suffered, and I suffer still," he said, with a grateful 
clasp at my hand; " but if you only restore rne my bairn, I shall 



A HOUSE WITH C -RIMS ON BUNDS. 329 

seek no more. I am poor now — the jade having taken every- 
thing, and left me only the heavy accounts to pay ; but all I 
have is freely at your disposal." 

" Hush ! I don't want that," I returned with a pained look ; 
" but have you no clue to the guilty ones — no portrait of yoiu 
wife, for instance ? " 

" I had a portrait of her taken shortly before we were married, 
but even if it had not been lost in the wreck of my home, it 
would be of no use to you," he replied, with a weary look of 
sorrow. " Four years have changed her more than they have 
me. Drink ages quite as fast as care. But I have a portrait of 
my wee lassie, which I got taken only six weeks before the smash 
up. I have brought it with me, as she is really all I wish tc 
recover." 

He took out a little folding case, and, opening it, placed be- 
fore me the glass photograph of a little girl of some three years, 
with laughing eyes and light coloured hair, who, even on the 
dull and leaden photograph, looked so pretty and engaging that 
I involuntarily exclaimed — 

" What a little beauty ! " 

" She is that ! " chokingly responded the father, smiling grate- 
fully at my undisguised admiration. " And as merry, and bright, 
and loving as a bairn could be. I tell you that child fairly 
wound herself round my heart in place of the mother, who has 
been lost to me for years, and when I woke up to find her stolen 
I thought the heart had been torn out of me. For four days 
and nights I did nothing but trail through the streets of Glasgow 
asking for her, searching every den or house likely to contain 
her, and never dreaming of sleeping or eating till I fairly drop- 
ped on the pavement. The police got to know me, and when- 
ever I appeared would take the words out of my mouth and say, 
'We haven't seen her yet, Mr Blake, but we'll get her for you soon 
— very soon.' Sometimes they had tears in their eyes, having 
perhaps bairns of their own. Ah, me ! if I had known when 
I was married that it was to end in this, I should have 
jumped from Glasgow Bridge into the river and ended it all 
then." 

He paused there, and I might have replied to him, but, truth 
to tell, I had heard the last sentence but imperfectly, and was 
now holding out the child's portrait at arm's'length with such 
a curious, puzzled expression, and new light on my face, that 
he exclaimed in surprise — 

" Anything wrong, Mr M'Govan?" 



33© A HOUSE WITH CRIMSON BLINDS. 

" Nothing ; but it has just struck me that I have seen either 
this girl or a face like it very recently." 

"Where? oh, where?" The words were thrown out with 
breathless eagerness and suspense, which was almost heart-break- 
ing to have to look upon ; but puzzle myself as I liked, I could 
not recall the circumstances under which I had seen the young 
face and curly hair. I did not once think of the house with 
crimson blinds, which may appear very stupid to some, but was 
afterwards no surprising matter to me. 

" I am sorry — I see so many faces," I stammered in apology, 
after a long pause ; " I may remember it by-and-by. But tell 
me what the man is like. He is more likely to come in my 
way than the child." 

" Handsome and elegant as any gentleman in the land," was 
the bitter reply. " Always exquisitely dressed — wears a thick 
black moustache, slightly pointed and twisted at the ends, which 
gives him a military look. Always carries a silk umbrella with 
smooth ivory head, and wears a number of flashing gold rings 
on his fingers." 

"Ah, I shall know him when we meet," I quietly returned; 
" and as he is not likely to hide his beauty under a bushel, that 
will probably be before many days are gone, if he is still in 
Edinburgh. Once I see him I shall not let him out of sight 
till I trace out your lost ones, if he and they have not yet parted 
company." 

We shook hands and parted after a little further conversation, 
he leaving the child's portrait in my care, with many cautions 
as to its safe keeping. I looked sharply for the handsome 
gentleman for some days, Mr Blake calling upon me at least 
once every day to learn the result, but I saw no one answering 
the description about our fashionable promenades. But an 
incident at this juncture came in my way which quickened my 
movements. As an example of a strange clue, as striking as it 
was simple, it is worth noticing in these sketches. 

A woman appeared at the Office one evening as I was about 
to leave ; and as there was quite a throng in the " reception 
chamber," I lingered to take some of the cases off their hands. 
The woman had her head covered with a shawl ; but when I 
took her aside to learn her complaint, she removed the covering 
and showed a face and brow battered and bruised into an 
almost undistinguishable mass of swoollen and discoloured 
flesh. 

" Ah, some one has ill-used you," I remarked, getting the 



A HOUSE WITH CRIMSON BLINDS. 331 

book ready and dipping a pen in ink. " What is your name. 
'ease ? " 

She hesitated for a moment, and then said boldly — 

" Laura Brunton." 

"Married?" 

" Yes ; married." The words were spoken in a choking 
urst, and with a depth of woful bitterness and despair which 
it is utterly impossible to put down on paper. 

" Who assaulted you ? Your husband ?" 

"A brute !" she vehemently answered, with a flash of the 
eyes, dimly discernible in her battered face, which showed that 
she was no common woman. " And it has not been once, but 
Every day for months. I am one mass of bruises from head to 
foot. He would have killed me if he dared." 

" Stop a moment, please, till I get another pen," I gently 
interposed, tugging out the used nib, which refused to let the 
ink flow, and looking in vain for another. I might have got 
one by disturbing those at the other desks, but, pressed for 
time, simply felt in my waistcoat-pocket for a pencil. In doing 
so, I found the pocket blocked by the folding case containing 
the child's photograph, which I quickly took out, and laid on 
the desk, till I should get the pencil below. The moment I 
had done so something like a hiss from the lips of the battered 
woman attracted my attention, and I saw that her eyes were 
fixed in a species of horror upon the little case, on the outside 
of which was the word " Georgina " in gilt old English lettering. 
To my surprise, at the same moment she hastily drew the 
shawl over her head, and began to back towards the door. 

" Stay! don't run away till you have completed the charge," 
I cried; but she only shook her head, saying — 

"It would do no good. Let me suffer; I deserve it all." 

" You might have stayed away then, and saved our time," I 
sharply returned. 

"I might; I wish to God I had!" and with these words 
passionately breathed she was gone. She was not ten minutes 
out of the Office till I started, and cried, "Good gracious! — 
did I ever believe that I could be so slow and thick-headed!" 

The truth was that for the first time I had suspected a con- 
nection between the little portrait and the woman's sudden 
retreat, and now could only bite my nails over my carelessness 
in letting her out of sight. Mr Blake and I were out most of 
that night trying to follow up the clue, but without success. 
It is possible we might have traced out the missing woman 



332 A HOUSE WITH CRIMSON BLINDS. 

before long, but the next day brought us a new complaint, which 
did more for us than any yet placed in our hands. 

A young gentleman, decidedly of the order known as " fast, 
appeared at the Office, accompanied by another, whom he 
introduced as "his lawyer." 

" I have come to complain of being led into a house at the 
west end, near Coates Crescent, where I was induced to stake 
money at a roulette wheel, similar to those used on the 
Continent, till my money, and watch, and rings were gone. 
Then the proprietor, as I took him to be — the same who 
decoyed me to the place — accepted my I.O.U. for sum after 
sum, till I find that if I were to honour them I should be 
ruined." 

"And you wish us to save you from that disagreeable task?" 
I dryly remarked. " Well, where is the house ? What is the 
number?" 

" I do not know the number, but it is easily distinguished, 
for it is the only one in the row fitted with crimson blinds. It 
is, in fact, neither more nor less than a gambling hell." 

"Ah, I remember!" The words came out with more than 
ordinary excitement on my part, the truth being that there had 
flashed upon my mind not only my first curiosity regarding the 
house, but the face of the weeping child which I had seen 
tugged so sharply from the window. With that flash came a 
curious thought; and before saying another word I took the 
portrait from my pocket, scanned the feature*, and had my 
whole case clear cut to my hands. 

"Did you see any woman about the house?" was my next 
inquiry. 

" Only one besides the servant, and she had blackened eyes. 
I caught a glimpse, too, of a little girl about three or so ; but I 
saw no " 

" I understand. I am glad you came. Was the decoy a 
handsome military looking gent, with profusion of rings on his 
fingers?" 

" He is ; and so ingratiating, I thought him a perfect gentle- 
man — a lord at least," was the simple rejoinder. 

" Ah, you are not the first who has thought that." 

I said no more, but, after procuring the necessary authority, 
went out to the west end, picking up Mr Blake on the way, 
and merely saying I thought I had a clue. Arrived at the 
house with crimson blinds, we rang sharply, and were at length 
admitted by a slovenly Irish servant, who said that "the 



A HOUSE WITH CRIMSON RLINDS. 333 

masther was dressing, but would see us in a minute." We 
entered a dingy parlour at the front part of the house, and had 
scarcely done so when there wandered innocently in at the 
open door a little girl, who no sooner sighted Blake than she 
opened wide her arms with a scream of joy, and ran forward to 
clasp him tight round the neck. 

" Oh, it's fazzer ! it's my own fazzer!" she joyously articulated 
between every cuddle and kiss at his tear-wet face; and then, 
hugging her close in his arms, the demented father went 
dancing round the room, singing, laughing, and weeping by 
turns, till I began to fear that his brain was affected. 

Shortly after, we invaded the bedroom of Mr Brunton, alias 
Joe Peglar, and handcuffed him before he could complete his 
shaving. He put on a bold front, defied us to touch him, 
and declared his intention of taking us to law for the insult; 
but when we turned out his pockets at the Office, and examined 
the magnificent gold watch there found, we discovered inside 
the back the following inscription : — 

" To George Blake, from his loving wife on their marriage-day. 
Mizpah." 

Of the unfortunate woman we could find no trace; and 
Peglar, on being committed on a charge of robbery, even 
admitted, in a sullen way, that he had not seen her for a day 
or two. This did not disturb her husband, who fiercely 
declared that he would never look upon her face again. But 
in the course of the week she was picked up in a common 
stair in the Canongate, raving in delirium tremens, and forth- 
with carried to No. 10 ward in the Infirmary. She had one or 
two intervals of consciousness, but loudly screamed that she 
would not see her husband or her child, when the merest hint 
was thrown out. 

Towards the end Blake relented so far as to go into the 
ward and look at her while she slept. She was much wasted 
and sunken, but Blake only covered his eyes with his hand, 
and said huskily — 

" She's awful like what she was when I married her." 

Thus she slumbered and slept till the end came, when she 
passed away without a word or a look for those she left behind; 
and Biake claimed the inanimate form, and had it quietly buried 
in a cemetery at the south side. 

The handsome Mr Peglar, shortly after, was sentenced to a 
short imprisonment on the charge of robbery, at the end of which 
term he was taken to England on a more serious charse, which 



334 A HOUSE WITH CRIMSON BLINDS. 

gave him the comfortable term of fifteen years' penal servitude. 
T trust that, by the time that is finished, his beauty will be less 
killing, and his heart either softer or for ever still. 

Blake himself is a happy man now, and as fortunate in his 
second marriage as he was luckless in the first. He has other 
children, too ; but I daresay his heart clings most fondly to her 
who in my hearing so joyously hailed him with the words. 
" Oh, it's fazzer ! it's my own fazzer 1" 



THE DIAMOND-RINGED APPRENTICE. 335 



THE DIAMOND-RINGED APPRENTICE. 

We had got hold of a woman "smashing," or passing 
base sovereigns in the High Street, and ran her in to see what 
she had about her. Of course we were disappointed. The 
woman had either pitched away all the " sinker " she carried, 
or, what is more likely, caried but one coin at a time, going 
back to her store, or getting a fresh one from some watchful 
satellite as she slowly changed the base gold into sterling silver. 
She professed to be very indignant at the charge, and said that 
we should hear from her lawyer in an hour or two; but as she 
had an English accent, and that brazen look which always 
stamps the professional criminal, we could afford to smile at 
the threat — the more so as she could not say where she had 
got the coin, and declined to tell how she lived, or whence she 
came. 

As the case stood at the close of her examination we had 
absolutely no evidence that was likely to convict her ; and it 
was unlikely that any other of the base coins would come in, 
as they were beautifully executed copies, which might have 
deceived even a bank teller, and would probably circulate un- 
noticed for some time. But the woman had spoken of send- 
ing a message to her husband, and employing a lawyer, and it 
instantly struck me that I might make something of the ad- 
mission. Down I Went to the draper whom she had attempted 
to victimise, and from him I learned that the woman had been 
seen speaking to a man — respectably attired in a brown over- 
coat and tall hat — shortly before entering the shop. The two 
had held a council of war, indeed, immediately in front of the 
windows, which some of the assistants had been dressing out. 
If I had but known this at the time of the woman's 
arrest, I might have caught him lingering in the wake of the 
crowd, or hanging on for signals from the prisoner, but there 
was no time to fume and fret over the loss. I must act 
promptly or lose him, and possibly the woman too. 

At that time there was but one qualified law agent who had 



336 THE DIAMOND-RINGED APPRENTICE. 

the run of the Police Court cases, which are considered be- 
neath the dignity of a respectable solicitor — though this gentle- 
man had more cleverness in his head than many a half-dozen 
of these put together. The hint or threat of the woman 
regarding " a lawyer," instantly directed my thoughts to this 
agent, whom I may call Mr Bellamy, and it struck me as not 
unlikely that the prisoner, during her conveyance to the 
Office, had telegraphed to her accomplice an intimation that 
he ought to seek the assistance of this sharp-witted gentle- 
man. 

I daresay little over an hour had elapsed between the arrest 
of the woman and my appearance at the office of Mr Bellamy; 
yet the moment he caught sight of my face and heard me say 
- — " Was there a man here dressed in a brown top-coat and tall 
hat?" he laughed outright and answered — 

"Aha, Mr M'Govan, you're too late this time! The man 
has been here, and has engaged me to defend his wife, but I 
have sent him off in double-quick time to where not even you 
can ferret him out." 

" Imphm ! That's your opinion, of course — or what you're 
paid for saying — but I may be excused for thinking different," 
I dryly returned. " Did he pay you?" 

"Did you think I would trust him?" laughingly returned 
the agent, taking out his purse and producing a sovereign for 
my inspection. " I am too old a bird for that." 

I snatched up the coin and examined it with great eager- 
ness, the lawyer smilingly watching me the while, and then 
returned it to him in silence. 

" Did you think for a moment that I would be fool enough 
to take a dummy?" he asked, with aggravating pleasantry. 
" No, no " 

"There is honour among thieves," I said, finishing the 
sentence for him. 

" Ill-natured, of course, because you've lost your man, and 
will lose the woman too," he coolly retorted. 

"You're sure of that?" 

" Quite. I mean to get her off," was the confident reply; 
and as I knew he was not given to boasting, I mentally gave 
the woman up as lost. 

" And will a sovereign pay you for all the trouble you will 
have?" I snappishly inquired. 

" If it does not, I shall get more." 

"Oh, then, you know where to find the man? — you've got 



THE DIAMOND-RINGED APPRENTICE. 337 

his permanent address ? " I pursued, trying hard to look 
innocent. 

His answer was a knowing wink. 

"It's no use, Mr M'Govan, with me" he at last observed. 
"Just take your defeat quietly, and hope for better luck next 
time." 

" I'll get them yet," I said, rather savagely. 

" Oh, well, through time you may ; it's the fortune of war," 
he carelessly returned ; " only this time you're done." 

I could not admit that, and, agreeing to differ, we parted. 
The next morning the woman was placed at the bar of the 
Police Court, and charged with uttering base money with 
intent to defraud; but Mr Bellamy was there to make a 
pathetic appeal on her behalf, in which he stated that there 
was not a particle of evidence against the "poor woman," and 
so worked on the feelings of the Sheriff that she was discharged 
with a caution. 

It happened, however, that we had been busy with the tele- 
graph wires during the interval ; and just as the agent was 
leading her out, a man arrived from Glasgow with a warrant for 
her apprehension on a similar charge. 

"Not defeated yet, Mr Bellamy!" I triumphantly exclaimed, 
as I again laid a hand on her shoulder. 

" Let me see your warrant," cried the quick lawyer, and then 
I knew we were done, as the warrant was for Lanarkshire 
alone, and to get another would take an hour at least. 

" Tuts, that's a trifle which we can remedy in a few minutes," 
I said impatiently; but then the agent defied us on our peril to 
detain her a second longer, and we were forced to let her go. 

The moment the woman was free she called a cab, by her 
agent's instructions, and drove down to Leith Railway Station, 
where she took out a ticket for Galashiels, which she paid for 
but did not use. Before the train started she had quietly 
slipped out of the station and tramped to Granton, where she 
took passage across the Forth, and vanished by a roundabout 
route in the wake of her husband. I was at the Railway 
Station two hours later with a proper warrant, and then tele- 
graphed to Galashiels and every station on the way in vain. 
She had effectually thrown us off the scent, and we had just to 
grin and bear it. 

But as yet the case had only begun, for the most extraordin- 
ary and mystifying part of it was to come. 

Mr Bellamy, among his other employments, acted as a 
s. c v 



338 THE DIAMOND-RINGED APPRENTICE. 

collector of bad debts, and thus had at times a deal of money 
passing through his hands which was not actually his own. 
Not long after the escape of the woman, a client of his, who 
had just got a considerable sum through Mr Bellamy's agency, 
was paying the same into the bank, when the teller checked off 
no less than three sovereigns from the sum, which he declared 
to be counterfeit. The gentleman could not believe that they 
were bad, and took them back to Mr Bellamy, who was equally 
hard to convince. He tested them by ringing and a close ex- 
amination, and then slowly admitted that they were spurious. 
He then took them back to the person from whom they were 
received in payment, but this man roughly declared that he 
knew nothing about them, but that they were not the coins 
paid away by him, which were not only good gold, but much 
older and more worn than the three produced. The solicitor 
was greatly enraged, and had he been anything but a lawyer, 
would doubtless have made a law case of it. How the 
business was settled I know not ; but some time after, in paying 
some court fees for a client, Mr Bellamy was again checked 
passing a bad sovereign. This time he was well laughed at, 
and chaffed so sorely that he was glad to take back the coin 
and say little about it, though he professed to be thoroughly 
mystified as to how it could have come into his possession. 
He was almost certain, he said, that he had got the coin 
among others at the bank, in getting gold for a five-pound 
note ; but as he could not prove it, was forced to bear the loss. 
Still another case occurred, by a client presenting two of the 
bad sovereigns at the same bank, which he said had been paid 
him by Mr Bellamy; and this time the bank authorities, be- 
coming suspicious, not only retained the coins, but consulted 
me. Mr Bellamy, from constantly appearing for the defence 
of criminals, had not the best reputation in the eyes of these 
gentlemen. What was to hinder him, when he had all the 
sources at his command, doing a little crime on his own 
account? That was how they put the case to me, and in 
spite of many an old grudge, I should have laughed at the 
insinuation against the solicitor's character, had it not been for 
one apparently trifling circumstance. The coin tendered by 
the female "smasher" was still in our possession; and re- 
membering my own suspicions of the retaining fee of Mr 
Bellamy, I turned to this, and found that in date, make, and 
appearance, the detected coins exactly resembled this original 
counterfeit. The coins, I may here say, were obviously not 



THE DIAMOND-RINGED APPRENTICE. 339 

the work of a novice — they were so carefully got up and 
finished, that they could not have been sold wholesale at less 
than five shillings each. It was quite clear, indeed, that they 
were the work, not of one man with a few rude tools, but of 
an expert gang, commanding every appliance for their evil 
trade. 

After a good deal of consultation, I thought I would go down 
and see Mr Bellamy at his office. 

The moment the solicitor saw me, he said — 
" I could swear I know what has brought you." 
" Out with it, then." 
" Bad sovereigns." 

" Yes ; what do you know about them ? " 
" I know absolutely nothing but that they are being palmed 
upon me in some mysterious fashion which beats me to 
fathom," he saj,d with great earnestness. " I have just found 
one in my purse, and I have three in my desk which wera 
checked the other day." 

" But it is not these I come about," I quietly observed. 
" How did you know I came about that ? " 

"I don't know — I just read it in your face, I think," he 
carelessly answered. "What is it? Some more I've been 
paying away ? " 

"It is;" and then I told him of the coins being stopped at 
the bank, and how I had been called in. 

"That's because H , the head of that branch, has a 

pique at me," he angrily remarked, when I had finished. 
" But never mind — I can afford to laugh at him. But I 
think you have a theory of your own. Out with it, plump and 
plain, and I'll be as candid with you." 

His manner was so unlike that of a guilty man that I ven- 
tured to comply, and bringing out the coin of the female 
smasher and those checked at the bank, I pointed out that they 
were identical in make and finish. As soon as I had done so, 
he took one from his purse and three from his desk, and com- 
pared them closely, and said — 

"You're right — they're all from one die and one manu- 
factory; but how on earth have they got into my possession?" 
" That's just what I want to find out," I gravely answered. 
" Have you never heard from those two smashers since yon ? " 
"I have, once. They were rather grateful, I suppose, to 
me for the neat way I tugged them out of your clutches, and 
they sent me another fee as an extra," 



34o THE DIAMOND-RINGED APPRENTICE. 

" Oh, indeed ? Was it paid in gold ? " 

" It came to me in the form of a Post Office order. I thought 
that was your line of search; but I've been too careful to get 
swindled in that manner. Besides, it is not two, but perhaps 
twenty sovereigns which may have been palmed on me. How 
could it be done ? I tell you it's a mystery to me." 

" Are you quite sure of the people you got the money from?" 

" Oh, quite. There's no doubt whatever about them ; 
besides, to let you into a secret, the bad money has been 
brought in not from one person, but from several." 

" By you ? " 

"Oh, no; I don't bother with that. My oldest clerk, John 
Lyle, does that." 

" Then he must be the criminal." 

" That is absolutely impossible," said Mr Bellamy, with slow 
emphasis. 

"Why?" 

" Because, in the first place, he is an old and tried man, of 
staunch integrity ; and, in the second place, there is no possi- 
bility of him knowing anything of the makers of these coins. 
When the man was here, Lyle was at home ill." 

"You are sure you never mentioned these queer clients of 
yours to him, or got him to write a letter to them ? " 

" Quite; and the address is not even written down. I carry 
all these delicate matters in my head." 

" How is it that such a shrewd and trusted fellow has been 
twice taken in with bad money? " 

" I don't know — neither does he — though he is greatly dis- 
tressed about it. It's a mystery to us both, and if you clear it 
up, I'll promise never to laugh at you again." 

" That's very kind of you," I said, with a bit of a sneer. 
" Perhaps the laughing will be all on my side. What would 
you say if I took you away with me on a charge of uttering 
base money?" 

" It would be a great joke," he answered. 

" Not to you," I returned, with more seriousness than he 
had shown. " Really, mind you, I don't know but it may 
come to that. I'm bound to grab at somebody, and can't be 
blamed for taking the one nearest my hand." 

" Now, don't be spiteful, for if you are you will certainly do 
something foolish. Take the one nearest your hand, certainly, 
but first decide who he is. It is not I, for you can see that I 
have been the chief sufferer," 



THE DIAMOND-RINGED APPRENTICE. 341 

We talked in this strain for some time, during which I 
learned that John Lyle, the trusted clerk, often brought in 
quite a large sum after banking hours, and consigned it to the 
safe till next morning. To this safe there was but one key, 
and this, along with some others, remained in Lyle's possession 
by day, and was handed to Mr Bellamy at night. Upon some 
rare occasions, however, Lyle took the keys home with him. 

I had no particular thought in view in laying bare these facts; 
but one significant discovery came out of the inquiries — all the 
money which had been found to be base had been in the safe; 
not always for a night— sometimes for but an hour or two — 
but in every instance the coins had come out of the safe cash 
drawer. Lyle was an old and experienced cash collector, and 
careful to a fault in examining the money tendered him to test 
its genuineness. How, then, came it that real gold, or gold 
supposed to be real, no sooner went into the safe, even for an 
hour, than it became spurious ? It was the old story of the 
philosopher's stone reversed; it changed base metal to gold, 
the safe not only changed gold to base metal, but, more 
wonderful still, changed it into coins manufactured in a certain 
secret mint in England, the locality of which was known only 
to Mr Bellamy. Frankly, I may say at this stage, in spite of 
his coolness, I thought the solicitor the guilty one. I decided, 
it is true, to see the Fiscal and the Superintendent before 
taking action, but I felt almost certain that he would be in jail 
in a few hours. But just then an incident so trifling stepped 
in to save him, that I almost hesitate to put it down. 

I had gone into the front office with Mr Bellamy and ex- 
amined the wonder-working safe, and questioned John Lyle at 
the same time, when the office door opened, and a young 
whipper-snapper of a clerk came in with a cigar in his mouth, 
a cane twirling in his hand, and a diamond ring flashing on 
one of his fingers. I thought he was a customer or client, till 
I saw him place his monkey-headed cane reverently in the 
umbrella stand, hang up his hat, and take his place at a desk, 
after loftily tossing the half cigar into the fire. 

"A fast youth that," was my mental comment, as I returned 
to the back room with Mr Bellamy. Just as I was passing 
from the one room to the other, an idea struck me which made 
me start and for a moment stand stock still in the doorway. I 
think Mr Bellamy noticed the curious look, and was about to 
inquire into the cause, when I stopped him by closing the door 
and saying in an undertone— 



342 THE DIAMOND-RINGED APPRENTICE. 

" Have you any more clerks coming in ? " 

"No; why?" 

" Could you send that young lad out for a moment till I test 
something ? " 

"Certainly;" and the order was given accordingly, though 
not without surprise, and the diamond-ringed gentleman was 
sent an errand to the end of the street — religiously taking with 
him his familiar spirit, the monkey-headed cane. 

" Now, just one question— did the husband of that female 
smasher tell you his story in this room ? " 

"Yes." 

" Did he speak loud or low ? " 

" Pretty loud — I think he is a little deaf himself." 

" Good ; and who was in the outer office at the time ? " 

"Oh, nobody in particular; Mr Lyle was absent, ill, at the 
time." 

" Then who showed him in ? " 

" Oh, just that young lad — the apprentice." 

" The fast youth with the diamond ring? " 

" Yes." 

" He'll have a big salary, I suppose — three or four pounds 
a-week ? " 

" Get away, man ! what do you think I'm made of? He 
gets exactly fifteen pounds a-year, and jolly well paid, I 
think." 

" Friends wealthy ? " 

" Well, no ; not particularly ; but you know if people will 
have their sons brought up to a genteel profession, they must 
be prepared to make some sacrifice for it." 

" Seems a smart fellow ? " 

" He is. He'll be a 'cute one, I can tell you, when he 
passes." 

" Now, would you be kind enough to call in Mr Lyie, and 
say something to him in a tone of voice as nearly pitched to 
that of your queer client as you can remember ? " 

With just a dawning idea of my meaning breaking out on his 
face, the solicitor complied ; and Lyle and I changed places, 
with the door closed between us. 

Sitting at the desk used by the diamond-ringed gentleman, I 
found that I could hear that some one was talking in the next 
room, and no more ; but on leaving the desk, and applying my 
ear to the key-hole, of course I heard every word distinctly. One 
significant circumstance during this test did not escape my eye 



THE DIAMOND-RINGED APPRENTICE. 343 

— the safe, during the whole time I had been in the office, had 
stood unfastened with the keys hanging from the lock. 

I returned to the inner room, and quietly asked Mr Bellamy 
to go over, as near as possible, all that had passed between 
him and the queer client during the visit. This he hesitated 
to do, till I convinced him it was to save himself that I wished 
for the information, and that without it I might be absolutely 
helpless. The account of the interview was briefly thus : — The 
man had come in in a shuffling way, and said vaguely that his wife 
had got into trouble passing some bad money, and he wanted 
her got off ; to which Mr Bellamy, after receiving his fee, 
promptly replied by advising him to be off as quickly as he could, 
unless he knew a safe hiding-place in the city. He then told 
him to walk to Corstorphine, and there take a ticket for Glasgow; 
then to get out, not in the city, but the first station from it, and 
walk the remaining distance, after which he was to cross the 
city and take train at the first station on the other side, and 
there make his way to England. Hull was the town he hailed 
from, and thither he meant to make his way, as the " factory " 
of which he was the chief partner had its headquarters there. 

Of this " factory " or base-coining den he gave a clear and 
lively description, and then ended by saying that, though for pru- 
dent reasons he could not reveal the exact spot on which it was 
situated, Mr Bellamy could always hear of him, or send word 
about his wife, by addressing him at a certain house in Hessle 
Road. 

As soon as the account was finished, I primed Mr Bellamy in 
the part I wished him to play, and got him to send the old 
clerk Lyle out on business, leaving only our diamond-ringed 
young friend in the outer office, to which he had returned dur- 
ing the narration. 

I found the fast youth busy at his desk, and, carefully closing 
the door of the inner room, I made for the outer door, and then 
suddenly paused and listened. 

"Isn't that Mr Bellamy calling you?" I said to the appren- 
tice. 

" He never calls ; he rings," loftily replied that young gentle- 
man. 

To which I gravely answered — 

" I'm sure I heard a voice ; put your ear to the key-hole just 
to oblige me, and tell me what you hear." 

The lad stared at me open mouthed, and then complied, think 
ing me mad, I have no doubt. 



344 THE DIAMOND-RINGED APPRENTICE. 

But the moment his ear was pressed to the key-hole, he heard 
— and I heard too — the astounding words from within — 

" If you want to send me any news or any message, address 
me at ' Ralph Hutchin's, Hessle Road, Hull.' " 

As the words fell on his ear the lad's eyes met mine, and in 
an instant his face underwent a series of flashing changes. 
First it was red, then white, then red again, as fast as one could 
have waved a hand before his face. 

" What's the matter ? what's wrong ? " I kindly inquired, 
seating myself on one of the high stools, and keeping my eyes 
fixed on his face ; but he seemed to have no explanation to 
offer, so I took out one of the base sovereigns I had brought 
with me, and quietly holding it up between my finger and 
thumb, I said to him — 

" Here is a bran new sovereign, fresh from the coiner's hands 
— would you be good enough to take it to the cash drawer in 
that safe and change it for any old or worn-looking sovereign 
yon can find there? See, the keys are in the lock — it'll be 
quite easy." 

The flashing changes in colour ceased on the face as I 
spoke, and he remained ghastly pale, with beads of perspira- 
tion breaking slowly from his temples. Still, he tottered man- 
fully forward, as if to take the coin from my hand and brave the 
thing out, when I quickly changed the coin for the handcuffs, 
saying — 

" I think I will give you these instead. You can keep your 
diamond-ring on till you get to the Office, but you may leave 
your monkey-headed cane behind, as it is of no value, and they 
don't use such things in prison." 

As I spoke Mr Bellamy came forth with the words — 

" Is it all right, Mr M'Govan ? " and the mention of the name 
seemed to complete the effect. The miserable boy covered his 
face with his hands, and began to howl and blubber like a child 
ordered up for a caning. He persisted in not confessing, how- 
ever, though earnestly urged to do so by his employer ; so I 
had to take him away with the degrading symbols of crime on 
his wrists. At the Office he was searched, and one base 
sovereign found in his purse of the same stamp as those already 
detected. Then I went to his home, and, by searching his 
room very rigidly, I found not only a small packet of the 
spurious coins, but a brief and business-like " memorandum " 
from the makers, in which they acknowledged receipt of Post 
Office order for one dozen of " patent lozenges," which were 



THE DIAMOND-RINGED APPRENTICE. 345 

herewith sent as per order. The moment I read this note, it 
struck me that I might make something of it. Accordingly, 
before any noise could be made in the papers about the arrest, 
and without even trusting a message to the telegraph, I started 
for Hull the same afternoon, and there spent three days, in con- 
junction with the authorities and sharpest men on the staff, in 
laying a trap for the clever coiners. During that time the boy 
Grieve had come to his senses in prison, and was induced to 
write a note to the coiners, enclosing a Post Office order, and 
asking for a fresh supply of " patent lozenges." This note was 
carefully followed from the letter-carrier's hands to that of a man 
answering the description given me by Mr Bellamy of his queer 
client. We could have arrested him there and then, it is true, 
but we aimed at a bigger haul, and accordingly we had him 
tracked and watched during the whole of the afternoon, during 
which he never once went near any suspicious haunts. 

At night, however, he was less guarded, and went boldly to 
a house in an obscure and dirty part of the town near the water- 
side, which he approached and entered with such caution that 
we had no hesitation in sending at once for the relay of picked 
men waiting in readiness at the Central. The den was speedily 
surrounded and the doors smashed in, when we secured the 
whole gang but one, who leaped from an upper window sheer 
down into the water, and so escaped. 

The coining implements were taken with them, and among 
the gang I was pleased to find my old acquaintance the female 
smasher, who did not seem equally delighted to meet me. But 
gratitude and criminals are always far apart. The whole batch 
were tried shortly after, and sentenced to various terms of penal 
servitude, some handsome compliments being paid to me 
at the time of their capture. The diamond-ringed lad Grieve was 
taken up and accepted as evidence against the gang, and thus 
escaped the punishment for which he had booked himself. He 
remained in England, and probably changed his name, so it is 
to be hoped it was a life-lesson to him. 



346 THE UMBRELLA MENDER'S QUEST. 



THE UMBRELLA MENDER'S QUEST. 

It was at the Night Asylum for the Houseless, down the 
close beside our Central Police Office, that I first met the old 
umbrella mender. Even now I seem to see the great dark 
room, with his gaunt figure, seamed face, and straggling white 
hair shining out like a halo from the centre of the rows of hard 
beds and brutal faces. It was after twelve o'clock on a chill 
November night, and I had gone down purposely late to look 
for a thief I was expecting from Newcastle. The attendant 
took me into the men's dormitory without a word, and I turned 
back the slide of the lantern I carried, and shone the bright 
glare slowly over the sleeping faces. My man was not there — 
had not arrived yet — perhaps was even then toiling manfully 
along some bleak road, thinking himself very clever, and hurry- 
ing to have the pleasure of meeting me at the end of the way. 

But the streaking silver of the old man's hair caught the 
yellow glare of the lantern, and attracted me to the side of the 
owner with a curious interest. Rogues and waifs, you see, 
seldom have silver hair — they mostly die off long before the 
age when that crown of glory is awarded to humanity. And 
then crime was not written on that patient face — only care and 
wearing thought. I bent over the sleeper, and saw that his 
withered hands were outside the coverlet, and moving spas- 
modically — one clutching the miserable bundle of old umbrellas 
and tools with which he had refused to part on entering, and 
the other clutching the coverlet madly, as if a life depended 
on him not letting it go. The old man's body was asleep, but 
his mind was active in dreams. I turned the slide of the 
lantern half forward to lessen the glare on his eyes, and listened 
to the groaning whisper coming from his lips. 

li Don't, Bob, lad! don't turn a thief, and I will work for 
thee till my fingers be worn to t' bone," he. murmured in pas- 
sionate entreaty, speaking in the homely tones of the New- 
castle dialect. " Where has he gone to ? I wonder if I could 
find t' poor lad ? I don't mind the long road, and the rain 



THE UMBRELLA MENDER'S QUEST. 347 

and wind. Hush, lad, thou's got money now ; I've got it all, 
and thou won't need to thieve any more. Come whome wi' 
me, lad — do come whome wi' thy owdt feyther. Ah, 'twas 
cruel ; but the drink made him do it. I wonder where the 
poor lad's gone." And with a deep sigh he turned uneasily on 
the hard bed. 

" Queer old fellow that," remarked the attendant. " Speak- 
ing in his sleep, I s'pose. He wouldn't take the regular supper, 
but was content to chew a mouldy old crust and then turn in. 
Said he wasn't a beggar or a tramp yet, thank God ; he was an 
honest man, working his way and living off no one, but would 
be glad of a shelter, as it was cold in the streets. Seems a 
decent-looking fellow. Not one of your bairns, is he ?" 

" I think not," I gravely answered. " But see, you are 
waking him up." 

The old man opened his eyes and started bolt upright, with 
a scared and anxious expression on his face, that would have 
suited a rogue who was "wanted" better than an honest man. 

"What! Who is this?" he cried in a frightened gasp, 
indicating my grave face and flashing lantern. 

" Only a detective — Mr M'Govan — looking over the com- 
pany," answered the attendant, rather respectfully. 

But the old man was only half awake, or had perhaps not 
yet half shaken off the effect of his dreams, for he turned to 
me with an anguished expression and clasped hands, and cried 
eagerly — 

" A detective ! — oh, sir, you won't be hard on him — you 
won't be hard on poor Bob — he doesn't mean to do ill, I'm 
sure ; only the drink and the bad company led him to it — 
dear, dear ! what am I thinking of? — I must have been dream- 
ing. I thought it was we're Bob you were after." 

A quiver shook his voice at the word " Bob," and he turned 
abruptly away from the light and drew the coverlet closer over 
his spare form. I gently reassured him in a few hastily 
uttered words, and then, closing the lantern, softly left the place. 

I cannot understand even yet why I was so interested in the 
old man, but I found myself dreaming of him during the greater 
part of the night, instead of sleeping soundly to prepare me for 
the work of the next day ; and so on the following morning, 
when I was standing at the close-mouth with some of our staff, 
and saw the familiar, slender figure slowly totter up the close 
bearing the bundle of tools and old umbrellas, it seemed quite 
that of an old acquaintance. 



348 the Umbrella menders quest. 

The old man's eyes, as he paused at the close-mouth, 
wandered hungrily over every face in sight, and at last his 
glance met my own. He was thinly clad, though not in rags; 
and the cold raw wind rushing up the High Street from the 
east seemed strong enough to tumble him into the grave. He 
smiled dubiously, as if half recognising me; then advancing, 
said — 

"Good morning, sir! I think you are Mr M'Govan, who 
saw me down there last night ? I hope I'm not troubling you ; 
but I was asking the man down there about you, and I think 
maybe you might be able to help me in something." 

'• No trouble at all ; I shall be glad to assist you in any way 
in my power," I said, shaking the cold, withered hand so 
timidly presented, to give him time to get back some degree 
of firmness to his voice, which had become strangely agitated. 

" It's about my son I want to speak," he said, as he drew 
me aside, and we walked off together into the quiet retirement 
of Parliament Square. " He was the only one left after my 
wife dee'd, and my heart was set on him, for he was the 
youngest, and all the others are sleepin' wi' their mother in St 
Nicholas' Churchyard." 

He paused there, fingering feverishly with the umbrellas; 
but I did not look at his face, for I guessed that there was 
something there which I did not wish to see. 

" You understand these things, sir ; for I've been told you've 
listened to many a tale of the kind," he brokenly continued. 
"It seems that some men get a large share of sorrow and 
trouble, and others a little 'un ; mine has been a large 'un ; but 
I don't complain, if I could only find Bob, and speak to 'un, 
and grip 'un by the hand, and say to 'un, ' Bob, lad, thou's 
been left money — I've got it sewed in my coat lining — fower 
hundred and seventy pounds — come whome wi' me lad, an' 
don't be a wanderin' thief and a vagabond any more.'" 

" He went wrong, then ?" I gently observed, as he drew his 
worn sleeve across his eyes, unable to articulate more. 

" He did, sir, and a sad heart it ga'e me. At first it was 
only drinkin', or fightin' an' quarrellin', and I got 'un off by 
payin' the fines. Then he got to coursin' hares wi' dogs on 
Sundays, and got mixed wi' thieves and such-like. The police 
are sharp our Newcastle way. They have to be; and he was 
ta'en wi' some thieves, and got thirty days, and no fine would 
get him off — though I'd sold my whole shop to make it up." 

" I warn't a poor wanderin' man then, more like a beggar 



THE UMBRELLA MENDER'S QUEST. 349 

nor anything else," pursued the old man, after a pause, with 
some dignity. " I had a shop o' my own, and a good trade in 
toys and papers and such-like. I sold umbrellas, too, and 
mended them at times, and that's how I took to it, after the 
money came to Bob." 

"Then he was really left money?" 

"Yes, sir; but that was long after he first went wrong — I'm 
not come to that yet," answered the old man " When the 
thirty days wor up, I went to Carloil Square and waited from 
eight in the morning at the jail door to see him come out. 
'Twas the dead of winter, and awful cold, but the thought of 
Bob coming out to me made me as warm as a pie. So I 
rubbed my hands and kept walking up and down from the 
Manors to Erick Street, in front of the doorway, thinking how 
nice it would be sitting at whome takin' breakfast wi' Bob 
alongside o' me just as usual. But before the door opened to 
let him out, there were others there — dog men and thieves — 
and they got round him and whispered to him, and he only 
pulled away when I spoke to him, and at last he up wi' his 
fist and struck I an awful blow in the eyes." 

" The brute — and you gave him in charge again, of course ?" 

" Na, I cudn't do that. I didn't mind the clip on the face 
a bit, but my heart was nigh breakin' at him goin' away, and I 
followed him a bit till he turned round and said, ' If I came 
any farder, he would throw me i' Tyne.' I said, 'Well, 
well, Bob, lad, thou may be sorry on it some day; 'and I went 
whome to my empty fireside mysen, wishin' I wor asleep in 
the churchyard wi' my wife and bairns." 

The short and shabby sleeve was again drawn across his 
eyes, and again I studied the clock of St Giles' church till he 
should be able to speak again. 

" From that day, sir, the devil seemed to get into him, and 
send him driving from bad to worse," softly resumed the old 
man. '* He wor seldom at home, and I was frightened to ask 
him how he lived, lest I should find him as bad as I feared. 
He wor always drinkin', and so furious that at times he thowt 
nothing o' beatin' me. I didn't mind that a little bit, for you 
know I loved the lad. He robbed me twice, but I said nothing 
about it to the police, for what good was there in sending him 
back to jail to learn more wickedness? Once when he 
was awful wild he struck me with the poker and broke my arm. 
but I went up to the Infirmary and had it set, and no one knew 
nowt about it. Then I had to give up my shop and get a living 



350 THE UMBRELLA MENDERS QUEST. 

as best I could, and I lost sight of him, for he was now going 
about the country robbin' whoever he could. He was often in 
the jails, as you may have heard, and was called ' Rattling Bob, 
the Newcastle Mumper.' " 

" Newcastle Bob ! Ah, I've heard of him, and seen him 
too," I answered with quickened interest. '• A clever rascal, 
but rash — rash as fire." 

"You've seen him! — where? when? was it here? lately?" 
breathlessly burst forth the old man in trembling eagerness. 
" Oh, I've been looking for him so long — this three year and 
more ! Tell me where I can find him?" 

I shook my head sadly. 

" I wish I could, but he is not in Edinburgh now, so far as 
I am aware. He generally haunts race-courses, and may be in 
Glasgow, or the other end of England for that matter." 

The light died out of the old man's face — he shivered a little, 
and then resumed — 

" A year or two after he left me — or rather after I lost 
sight of him — a letter came to me one day saying my sister in 
America was dead an' left him — that was Bob — all her money 
— fower hundred and seventy pounds. I cudn't believe the 
news, but after a while the money came, and I sewed it all in 
t' linin' o' my coat, and set off to look for him. I didn't need 
much to keep me alive, and so I took to the road as a umbrella 
man; for, says I to mysen, 'I'll find him now, and he'll turn 
square and do what's right.' Afore I took to the road I spent 
a good many shillin's I'd saved on advertisements in t' papers, 
sayin' it wor all forgiven, and to come whome to his father, 
who had good news for un ; but if he seed them papers he must 
have thowt 'em lies, for he never came nor never answered." 

"And you have never seen him since?" 

" Never once, sir. I've heard of him often from the charac- 
ters he goes wi', and many a kindly message I've left for him. 
If tears would wash out his sins, I've shed enough to make 
him white. But I've never found him, and all the money 
lying idle, and waiting him putting out his hand." 

" And have you never needed the money for your own 
wants?" I asked, more deeply moved than I cared to show. 

" I've needed it often, for the world isn't near so good and 
generous as some think," he bravely answered. " But the 
money is his, not mine, and it may save him through all time 
and eternity. No, sir; I would drop dead on t' road afore I 
would spend a farthing of it. He shall have it all — all to begin 



THE UMBRELLA MENDER'S QUEST. 351 

a new life with. I sometimes think it can't be so very long 
now till I find him. I've travelled a weary way looking for 
him; but when I was hungry, or wet, or cold, or faint, I just 
said to mysen, ' P'r'aps Bob is at the end o' t' road — cheer up, 
Geordie; thou shanna dee till thou sees thy son and saves 
him ! ' " 

There are not many heroes in this world; but I must confess 
that as I looked down on the slender figure, white hair, and 
thinly-clad form of this old umbrella-mender, I said to myself — 
" Well, he has taken the scales from my eyes — here is a hero, 
if ever there was one on earth, though he appears in strange 
guise." 

I shook him by the hand again, gave him a few words of 
encouragement and advice as to the places in Edinburgh 
where he was likely to hear of his son's whereabouts, and then 
turned away to my own business, while the old man moved off, 
looking sharply and eagerly into every strange face, as if saying 
to himself, " I know I shall meet Bob soon — it can't be very 
long now till I find him." 

I did not go away and straightway forget all about him. 
The simple relation of all his troubles had taken a firmer hold 
of me than many a more wonderful tale that had preceded it, 
and I made every inquiry and search in my power towards 
ascertaining his whereabouts. I often met the old man, too, 
moving about the low quarters of the city, always with the 
same eager and expectant look on his worn features, and always 
tottering manfully on, though seemingly wearied enough to drop 
and die by the way. But a month passed away, and I not only 
failed to hear of the son, but at length lost sight of the old man 
himself, and finally concluded that he had given Edinburgh up 
in despair and wandered off to some other city. 

About this time one of the Leith Police, in moving through 
St Andrew Street one morning at an early hour, found a man 
lying in an insensible state underneath the windows of a house 
having anything but a good reputation. The man was not 
above twenty-five, well-dressed, and not bad-looking, but the 
mark of Cain — the stamp of crime — was on his brow; and, 
though his eyes were closed, the policeman at the first glance 
at the face said — 

"A strange thief — got into hot quarters — bleeding at the 
mouth and covered with snow. I wonder if he has been thrown 
out of one of them windows ! " 

The officer glanced up at the windows above, but, of course. 



352 THE UMBRELLA MENDER'S QUEST. 

they were all demurely closed, and told no tale. Then he 
touched the prostrate form, to make sure that it had not stif- 
fened with the frost into a pulseless corpse ; and then, finding 
that the man still breathed, he sprang his rattle for assistance, 
and had him carried, in the first instance, to the Police Office, 
and then to the Hospital. The medical report there was* to 
the effect that the man was in a very precarious condition, and 
suffering not only from the effects of exposure and, perhaps, a fall, 
but from delirium tremens as well, and that his recovery was 
more than doubtful. Thus stimulated, the Leith detective set 
to work to trace out the guilty parties, believing that the case 
might eventually resolve itself into a charge of murder against 
some person at present unknown. Three persons were arrested 
on suspicion of being concerned in the crime ; but these stoutly 
denied throwing the man out of the window, and to that state- 
ment they firmly adhered, though kept in separate cells. Accord- 
ing to these three — two women and one man — the injured man 
had taken up his abode in the house some time before, with 
"lots of money" in his possession ; but had drank so hard and 
got so " mad " that there was no living with him, and many 
quarrels were the result. At last, on the night before he was 
picked up, he got outrageous, and tried to cut off the head of 
one of the women with a table-knife. The proprietor interfered, 
and there was a long struggle for the knife, during which the 
man was forced, in self-defence, to give his infuriated lodger a 
blow in the mouth with his clenched fist, which caused his 
gums and nose to bleed freely. Then the three succeeded in 
bundling the madman out to the stair, and down to the street, 
where they kicked him over in the snow, and left him " to sleep 
it off." 

Now this explanation, though it had a plausible appearance, 
by no means satisfied the Leith detectives, and after repeated 
efforts to overturn and undermine the statements, they came up 
to Edinburgh to get my advice and opinion on the subject. In 
the course of their description they had occasion to mention 
the name of the man found as ''Robert Findlay," otherwise 
" Newcastle Bob." Then I started joj'fully. 

" You do not mean to say that it is the ' Mumper ? ' — the 
racecourse mobsman ? — Rattling Bob ?" I exclaimed; and then 
being assured of his identity, I added — " Well, I would have 
given anything to have known that a month ago. I met his 
poor old father on the search for him, but now that I've found 
the prodigal, I do not know where to find the father." 



THE UMBRELLA MENDER'S QUEST. 353 

I dismissed the men with the promise that I would come 
down to Leith and see the injured man, and inquire fully into 
the case ; but it chanced that for two days I was more than 
usually busy, and so could not redeem my promise. At the 
end of that time the following note was brought up from Leith 
Hospital, and placed in my hands : — 

"Dear Sir,— 

"I have heard from a policeman that you have met my father and 
spoken to him. I am lying here ill, and the doctor says I may die. 
Would you come and see me, and tell me what my poor old father said? 

"Robert Findlay, 
u per Joseph Jackson, 
"Missionary." 

I ran out of the Office with the note in my hand — caught the 
Leith 'bus above the Tron just starting, and in half- an -hour was 
at the hospital. I was shown at once to a bed enclosed by a 
screen, and there I found a shadow of a man, white as the 
sheets on which he lay, propped up with pillows, and lying 
back with eyes half closed, as if weary of life and longing to be 
away. The doctor sat at one side, with his finger on the 
patient's wrist, while at the other side was the missionary who 
had penned the note to me, just closing the Bible from which 
he had been reading. The sound of my step on the floor, 
though light and hushed, caused the sick man to start and open 
wide his eyes; and then the doctor bent over him soothingly, 
saying, " This is the gentleman who spoke to your father. Are 
you strong enough to speak to him ? " 

" Oh, yes," whispered the shadow with the utmost eagerness; 
" tell him to come close, as I can't raise myself." 

I did as requested, and then he whispered — 

" Tell them to go away for a minute — I want to speak to you 

alone." 

The missionary and doctor softly retired, and then he 
grasped my hand with an unnatural strength, and whispered— 

" My poor owdt feyther ! — what did he say of me ? " 

"Nothing but good. He said he loved you and would 
search for you as long as he could put one foot before the other, 
and bring you back home and live happy with you on the money 
left you by your aunt." 

"What! did he forgie me?— did he not tell thee I broke his 

heart?" , . . . , 

" Not once. He has travelled over the whole country look- 
ing for you. He has money too— ?±>ove four hundred pounds, 
.s. £■ z 



354 THE UMBRELLA MENDER'S QUEST. 

left you by your aunt — sewed up in the lining of his coat — to 
give you, to we'an you from crime and start you in an honester 
life." 

He leant back in silence and closed his eyes, and through 
the closed lids I could see tears slowly force their way. There 
was a long silence, and the ticking of my watch seemed to 
make quite a noise. At length he opened his eyes and said — 

"The missionary says you have seen many like me taken ill 
in the midst of their sin." 

" Very many," I answered, with a shake of the head. 

"Hush! come closer! Did they stop goin' wrong when 
they got round again, and try a new way o' doin'?" 

The question was so eagerly and breathlessly put, that I 
turned away in silence, not wishing to chill his hopes. 

"Ah, I see what you would say — they seldom change their 
ways," he said, with a bright look. " Well, I'm glad I'm not to 
get better. It's better to die thus when I'm at peace with 
every one. You will see my father again, perhaps? You 
could not bring him here?" 

I looked in his wan and wasted face, and hesitated over the 
answer. 

" If I should find him, I might bring him " 

"Yes — yes — don't speak much till I have done," he said 
with a mighty effort. " I feel as if I won't have long to speak. 
You will try to see my father again, or find him out, and tell 
him " 

He was sinking back, and the words seemed to freeze on his 
lips. 

"Yes, yes ! what shall I say? " 

" Tell him the missionary came to me like a blessing — that I 
died peaceful and happy, and that " 

Again the words died away, and I gently moistened his lips 
with the wine at the bedside. 

"That — Bob — will — meet — him in heaven." 

The faint whisper ceased, a smile passed over his white lips, 
then a slight spasm, and then, getting alarmed, I hastily 
motioned to the doctor. 

"I think he has taken a relapse," I said, with my heart 
almost standing still. 

The doctor touched his wrist, looked in his face, and then 
turned sadly away. 

"He has, indeed," he gravely answered. " He is gone." 

That same night I went to the newspaper offices, and saw 



THE UMBRELLA MENDERS QUEST. 355 

that the following advertisement was set up for the morrow's 
paper : — 

"George Findlay, a travelling umbrella mender, and native of New- 
castle, who was in Edinburgh a month ago, may hear news of his son by 
applying to Detective M'Govan, Police Office, High Street, Edinburgh." 

On the forenoon of the day that this advertisement appeared 
I received the following message from the governor of the Poor- 
house in Forrest Road : — 

" City Poor House, Christmas Day. 
"Dear Sir,— 

" I have just read your advertisement in to-day's paper, and beg to say 
that an old man, calling himself George Findlay, and a native of Newcastle, 
was brought into this house some days ago by two persons who found him 
sleeping in the snow. We have been thinking of sending him to New- 
castle, but he is not yet quite strong enough to be removed. In these cir- 
cumstances, perhaps you could make it convenient to come out and see 
him." 

I went back with the bearer of the note. It was a clear 
frosty morning, and the streets were alive with gaiety and 
mirth, but none of it found an echo in my breast. The news 
I bore had neither smiles nor mirth about it, and at that 
moment I believe I would rather have faced the most desperate 
criminal in Edinburgh single-handed, than have to look on the 
patient, eager face of the old umbrella mender. 

At the Poorhouse I was conducted through the old mens 
ward by a querulous old woman, from whom I learned that the 
old man was " very low." 

" He has queer ways, too," she added. " He would hardly 
take off his clothes when they brought him in, and shouted 
out that we wanted to rob his son Bob, and at last we were 
forced to let him sleep with his old shabby coat folded up 
under his pillow like a treasure. He is rather down-hearted, 
and will hardly speak to any one, or say if he's any better, 
unless you ask him if he'll soon be able to look for his son, 
when he's sure to say, ' Ay, I mun try an' be out to-morrow 
— yes, I'll be stronger to-morrow.' " 

" Is he very weak ?" I asked. 

" Weak as a child, sir — can hardly lift an arm from the bed," 
was the emphatic reply. " But you know this is Christmas 
Day, and he's to get a glass of wine, and some roast beef and 
plum-pudding, and that'll put some strength in him — that'll 
cheer up his old heart and make a new man of him. Oh, we'll 
have a merry Christmas, though he is dull at times." 



356 THE UMBRELLA MENDER'S QUEST 

We reached the old man's bed as she spoke, and I motioned 
her to leave. The old man's eyes were closed; and to make 
him aware of my presence, I bent over him and said — 

'■ A merry Christmas to you, and a happy New Year when 
it comes ! " 

He started, and not recognising me rightly, said mechani- 
cally — 

"The same to you, sir." 

Then he opened his eyes wider, started upright in bed, and 
tremblingly seized my hand — 

"It's the Detective!" he quivered out, bending over my 
hand to kiss it, and hide the tears rushing to his eyes. " I 
thowt you would come ! I dreamt of you comin' last night, 
and you browt we're Bob wi' you, and he seemed so handsome 
and kindly-like. Oh, sir, speak! What news o' t' lad?" 

'• I have news," I said, in grave tones that drove every drop 
of blood from his face. 4i Bear up strongly, for it is not the 
news you expect." 

He sank slowly back to the pillow, but still kept his eyes 
riveted on my face, and motioned madly for me to go on. 

" Your son died yesterday in Leith Hospital. He had been 
taken there after lying exposed to snow and frost for a whole 
night in Leith, after being put out of a house mad with drink." 

" Dead ! dead ! " Only two words, but the anguished cry was 
that of a breaking heart. 

" Not dead, but gone before," I hastily added, bending 
closer over the white and rigid face. " He had sunk slowly — 
had seen the missionary every day — and left me a message for 
you." 

" Ay, we're Bob — dear lad ! — a message?" he murmured. 

" Yes, he said he would meet you in heaven." 

The old man's face underwent a sudden change — a smile 
trembled on the lips; and then, though the eyes remained 
closed, I heard him murmur with soft ecstasy — 

"Ah, I've found we're Bob at last! — the money won't be 
needed now, but, thank God for His mercy, I've found my lad 
— I've found my boy, and I'll never be unhappy no more! A 
merry Christmas, Bob, lad ! — a merry Christmas — and — 
and " 

A wild clutch of the withered hands, a long gurgling breath, 
and the sounds died away and I stood alone. The old man 
was dead, and had found his son. They were holding their 
Christmas ii- heaven ! 



Now Ready, Tenth Edition ; Pictorial Boards, 2s. 6d.; Cloth Boards, 3s. 6d. 

BROUGHT TO BAY; 

Or, EXPERIENCES OF A CITY DETECTIVE 
By James M'Govan, Author of " Hunted Down. 



OPINIONS OP THE PRESS. 

" That truth is stranger than fiction is daily proved by the episodes 
which come under the notice of the detective force ; and the experiences 
of an Edinburgh detective, as detailed by Mr M'Govan in 'Brought to 
Bay,' may vie for variety and excitement with the most startling creations 
of a sensation novel ; nor is Mr M'Govan careful to relate solely the cases 
in which his profession comes off with flying colours — allowing that some- 
times even the canny Scot may be baffled." — The Graphic. 

" So fascinating, indeed, have we found these stories, with their alterna- 
tives of the tragic, the humorous, the pathetic, and the graphic and 
occasionally eloquent style which characterises the method of their relation, 
that although they extend to over four hundred closely printed pages, we 
have found it difficult to lay the book down without reading it straight 
through. " — Liverpool Albion. 

" 'Brought to Bay' is quite as clever, and quite as well written, as any 
other detective stories — better written, in parts." — Bookseller. 

" M'Govan's stories ar« the best of the kind we have seen. He has a 
rich deep vein of pathos running, like a golden thread, through the greater 
number of the tales, with a tenderness in depicting some of the unfortunate 
criminals who fell under his care that is both touching and beautiful. Nor 
is the volume unrelieved by broad rollicking humour; for in M'Sweeny, 
the Irish detective and his queer escapades, there is plenty of both laughter 
and amusement. No one can read such stories as ' Left her Home,' ' Spirit 
Nelly's Mission,' 'Sparrow's Fight to be Honest,' 'A Mother's Leva,' 
" Ragamuffin Joe,' 'Bessie, the Orange Girl;' or ' A Drunken Thief,' with- 
out having the heart touched even to tears." — Dundee Advertiser. 

"Graphic and deeply interesting experiences. Some of the narratives 
ate exceedingly touching, while others are grotesquely humorous ; but in 
a!l of them we can trace the influence of a genia' spirit and a sympathising 
heart. . The pathetic pictures of sin and suffering which he presents 
tu his readers can scarcely fail to create or deepen those feelings of sym- 
pathy for the erring which must precede all true efforts for their reclama- 
tion." — London Temperance Record. 

" In the main thev strike us as stories which might have been true, and 
which thus very fairly represent circumstances and characters which come 
under the notice of a police agent in the Scotch capital. The detective of 
course has to put in the foreground rather constantly proofs of his own 
astuteness ; but upon the whole the book is one which leaves upon the 
mind a feeling of regret on behalf of multitudes in whose case temptation 
is terribly strong and trials are very severe." — Literary World. 

"Marvellous and graphically told tales, always intensely interesting, 
some of them very humorous, others deeply pathetic, not one of them pan- 
dering to vicious taste. Of the many characters portrayed, that of M'Govan 
himself is the most interesting. For a detective, he is singularly humane, 
tender, and sensitive. He has peculiar love for children, and writes always 
at his best when depicting the blessed influence of suffering childhood in 
weaning sinful parents from evil courses." — People's Friend. 



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS ON "BKOUGHT TO BAY"— Continued. 

" While the stories are full of interest, they are honestly written, and the 
amusement which the book will give is not the least likely to be spoiled 
by any evil effect." — Scotsman. 

" There can be no mistake about the interest of the experiences. A man 
more fertile in device it would be hard to find." — Norwich Mercury. 

" That the author of this remarkable book has in him the stuff out of 
which a successful novelist might be made cannot be doubted by any one 
capable of appraising aright the quality of literary work. His style is 
easy, animated, picturesque, occasionally pathetic. Equally at home in the 
descriptive and colloquial, he is neve! tedious — always interesting, 
' Brought to Bay ' is a book that may be read by the most fastidious, as 
well for its literary power and finish as for its teachings." — People 's Journal. 

"There is a realism in all his sketches; and the reader is lifted for 
the time being into the atmosphere of stirring adventure, and the romance 
of life, which is often more wonderful than fiction. In some of the tales 
there are passages of touching tenderness, of deep penitence for sin, anr\ 
of parental sorrow and forgiveness, which cannot be read without the 
emotional feelings being deeply touched." — Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald. 

" Never since the days of M'Levy has a volume of detective experiences 
appeared so fascinating as the one now before us. Mr M'Govan, evidently 
choosing from a large budget of experiences, relates only those stories 
which are pathetically interesting, and from the perusal of which the 
reader can become instructed as well as entertained." — Aberdeen Journal. 

" A fascinating collection of stories, written somewhat in the manner ol 
M'Levy and Waters. Some of the tales display considerable ingenuity."— 
Courant. 

" A most interesting volume, from the pen of a detective, a member 01 
the Edinburgh force. Each chapter constitutes a separate story, presenting 
all the attractions of a novel, exceedingly well told." — Scarborough Post. 

" Exceedingly interesting and instructive. Of a varied character, told 
in a simple but very effective way."— North Briton. 

"Mr M'Govan's book will prove a welcome friend." — Hull Times. 

" Alternately pathetic and laughable." — Hexham Herala. 

" Presenting an attractiveness that can scarcely be surpassed. Of the 
lales themselves we cannot speak too highly. In most of them there is a 
large profusion of true pathos, and the heart of the reader is touched. 
This volume will not only deeply interest the reader, but add to the breadth 
of his charity." — Leith Pilot. 

" A series of striking and dramatic stories, told with spirit, by one who 
claims to be an ex-detective." — Sunday Times. 

"They have been so extensively read in South Australia that it is 
scarcely necessary for us to say anything respecting their character. Mr 
M'Govan possesses much literary ability, many of his scenes being highly 
realistic ; and it is quite evident that he must have been personally brought 
into contact with the characters whose lives lie so vividly portrays. The 
stories are intensely interesting; in pathos and humour Mr M'Govan is 
squally at home. We know of few books of more genuine interest than 
' Brought to Bay.'" — South Australian Advertiser. 

EDINBURGH and GLASGOW : JOHN MENZIES & CO. 
LONDON: SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, & CO. 



Now Ready, 8th Edition ; Pictorial Boards, 2s. 6d. , Cloth Gilt, 3s. 6d. 

HUNTED DOWN; 

Or, RECOLLECTIONS OF A CITY DETECTIVE. 
By James M'Govan, Author of" Brought to Bay." 

OPINIONS OP THE PRESS. 

" ' Hunted Down ' lacks none of the graphic power and fascinating in- 
terest that distinguished Mr M'Govan's former work; indeed, if there be a 
fault to find with it, it is that it is too fascinating. The tragic, the comic, 
the grave, and the gay, are curiously blended in these Recollections, in the 
record of which there is much evidence of descriptive and imaginative power, 
and of intimate knowledge and close experience of the good and bad quali- 
ties of the human heart." — Liverpool Albion. 

"There is no doubt that this writer's tales are among the best of theil 
class. While free from objectionable matter, they are deeply interesting 
as narratives, are written in a genial style, and are grave or gay, pathetic 
or humorous, tender or stern, as the subject may demand. . 
M'Govan is an effective ally of the temperance reformer, furnishing him 
with facts and arguments, and expressing his teaching with a power and 
eloquence which platform orations cannot surpass." — Dundee Advertiser. 

"In 'Hunted Down' we have a volume of detective stories relating to 
Edinburgh, or rather having their scene in Edinburgh. They are marked 
by much ability, and are decidedly above the average of stories of the 
kind. " — Scotsman. 

"There is a pathetic touch, here and there worthy of Dickens or 
Thackeray, and the fine humanity and delicate taste of the author transfuse 
the whole with a savour of elevated thought, calculated alike to impress 
and benefit." — Midland Free Press. 

"Another collection of detective stories, full of graphic experiences, and 
told in such a manner as to beget in the reader a sympathy for the erring, 
and an earnest desire to aid them in reforming their ways. M'Govan's 
sketches display a wonderful amount of inventive power, and his style is 
natural and simple, frequently pathetic, and relieved by narrations of 
humorous incidents." — Courant. 

" It is within the mark to say, that what the author now gives us is, in 
interest and power, fully equal to his former effort. The same skilful de- 
lineation, ability to intensely interest the reader, and full command of pathos, 
is as apparent in 'Hunted Down' as in 'Brought to Bay;' and so enthral- 
ling are its contents, that one is tempted not to lay it down until every page 
is read at one sitting." — Hull Times. 

"A second selection of the Experiences of an Edinburgh Detective, 
which have delighted thousands of readers, the central idea being the trac- 
ing out of several incidents which ended in the breaking up of a daring 
gang who were controlled by a very clever rogue. For the most part, 
these tales show in a marked degree the astuteness of the detective and his 
volunteer assistants, one of whom had the keenness of wit which intimate 
acquaintance with thieves alone could give; and another, the conceit and 
self-love which made him a most useful ally of the police." — Norwich 
Waekly Journal. 

"Will be hailed by readers with delight. Mr M'Govan's stories are 
all equally well written, whether in a pathetic or humorous, descriptive or 
colloquial style, and, if we judge aright, have been inspired by a very close 
study of human nature. Of his humorous stories, those relating to 
M 'Sweeny are the most laughable; while the ones which touch the hear! 
most are those about children." — Peotles "Journal 



OPINIONS OF THE PEESS ON "HUNTED DOWN "— Continued. 

" Viewed aright, every one of M'Govan's tales is a sermon full of warn- 
ing and instruction, and calculated to exert a deterrent power, and cause 
wandering feet to shun the fatal downward path. Besides having this 
moral effect, they are possessed of great literary merit, are skilfully con- 
structed, and felicitously told. Their diction, and the spirit which pervades 
them, show that the writer has a pure cultivated taste, a warm tender heart, 
and generous sympathies, clearly in love with all that is fair and beautiful. 
It is fully equal to the former work in interest and excellence, and will 
prove most entertaining reading for all." — People's Friend. 

"There is not a little genuine humour in many of the situations, while 
uther incidents are full of pathos. The interest is well sustained, and at 
the same time there is about the narratives such an air of reality that this 
new volume cannot fail to win a success equal to that of ' Brought to Bay,' 
of which three editions have been sold within a few months." — Norwich 
Mercury. 

" ' Hunted Down ' deals with criminals, and without investing them with 
the laurel wreaths of heroes, lets one section of the community know how 
another lives. There is a strange interest attaching to the narrative, and 
this is perhaps due to the fact chat the remarkable characters of whom the 
author speaks really had an existence. " — Literary World. 

" In the first tale, the wife of a thief is ' hunted down ' to death, and 
many of the succeeding stories show how the resolve of the thief to ' hunt 
down ' the author of this mischief and his gang was carried out with an 
awful determination and effectiveness. It is not to be supposed that the 
volume consists of pathetic sketches alone. In these the author undoubt- 
edly excels ; but there are scenes of intense excitement introduced, and now 
and again bits of genuine humour." — Leith Pilot. 

" A thrilling story of crime and its detection. The author has happily 
avoided turning thieves and scamps into heroes, so that the objection which 
is sometimes urged, and with reason, against works of this class, does not 
hold good in the present instance. The incidents are so numerous and so 
striking, that there is little doubt of their having been drawn from life, and 
very skilfully have the materials so obtained been turned to account." — 
Pictorial World. 

" The stories are all of an exciting nature, and told in a graphic pithy 
style, which attracts and does not weary. The episodes through which the 
now famous M'Sweeny is made to pass are told in a very humorous style, 
but many of the tales are touchingly pathetic." — North Briton. 

"Mr M'Govan writes in a pure, elevated tone, and invariably points the 
moral which these tales strikingly bring out. In a short dedicatory note, 
the author, in reverence and love, lays his work on the grave of his mother, 
doing so in the belief and hope that his pages contain nothing which an) 
mother need hesitate to place before her children. His belief and hope are 
fully realised in the pages which follow the dedication." — Aberdeen Journal. 

" In the thirty stories told by Mr M'Govan, the detective is not so 
conspicuously astute as to excite our marvel or distrust, though he is dis- 
tinctly the pivot round which moves the entire machinery of the several 
plots. The stories are, however, all of an interesting and exciting 
character, thoroughly well-written, and altogether free from the slang with 
which the detective policeman of real life is almost necessarily familiar 
The book is one of the most interesting of its class, and positively does not 
:i>ntain a dull page." — Bookseller. 

EDINBURGH and GLASGOW: JOHN MENZIES & CO. 
LONDON : SIMPKIN MARSHLL & CO. 



Now Ready, 7th Edition; Pictorial Boards, 2/6 ; Cloth Gilt. 3/«, 

STRANGE CLUES; 

OR, CHRONICLES OF A CITY DETECTIVE 
BY JAMES M'GOVAN, 

AUTHOR OF " BROUGHT TO BAY," " HUNTED DOWN," ETC. 



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS. 

" Nowhere in the English language, so far as we know, are there an> 
detective stories which can equal these for interest and genuine ability 
They are all more than readable. Any one who simply rushes through 
them may not discover all the teaching there is in them; but the thoughtful 
reader will not fail to see that, while the author of the book is telling a 
story of incident, and it may be of crime, he is pointing a moral. It is 
difficult to understand how any one can read these stories without finding 
good in them. They are short, well devised, well told, and altogethei 
good specimens of the class of literature to which they belong, which U 
in many respects a much higher class than many people are willing to 
acknowledge. " — Scotsman. 

"These 'Strange Clues' are not of the ordinary criminal class. Here 
and there we get a sketch of the humorous, and then some pathetic story 
which shows how well Mr M'Govan has gauged the depth of human 
feeling. The stories are graphic, vigorous, and intensely fascinating — so 
much so that we have taken the book up again and again ; nor have we 
been satisfied with one perusal, but many sketches have invited a second 
inspection. " — Pictorial World. 

' ' A master of pathos and humour, no less than of the ability to solve moral 
problems which would puzzle ordinary folks. Those who know the once- 
popular works of ' Waters,' will admit that the Edinburgh detective i< a 
long way ahead of the earlier narrator. A proof that his popularity is in 
no way diminished, is found in the fact that the whole of the first edition 
(1,500 copies) of 'Strange Clues was sold before the day of publica- 
tion." — Norwich Mercury. 

" Mr M'Govan is not only a clever detective, but a very able writer. 
He is equally at home in dealing with the tragic, pathetic, or humorous, 
and most of his sketches are fascinating in a high degree. As the adven- 
tures and incidents related are personal reminiscences, they come before 
the reader with a freshness and reality which, under other circumstances, 
would be impossible. \\ e have had the pleasure of perusing these and other 
works from Mr M'Govan 's pen, and can say without prejudice, that he is 
unsurpassable in his particular line of literature. " — Rotherham Advertiser. 

' ' That genius M 'Govan — surely the very Dickens of detectives. " — People'' 
Friend. 

" The fine sense of humour of the writer is also constantly exhibited. Th 
volume cannot fail to exercise a great fascination over those who can appre- 
ciate literature of a powerful, true, and healthy nature." — Leilh Pilot. 

" A series of wonderful chronicles of a city detective, who has already 
made his mark as a popular writer in his well-known works, ' Brought to 
Bay,' and ' Hunted Down.' They are so intensely interesting, and so well 
told, that it was with the greatest difficulty we could stay pur reading until 
we ha<' completed the volume. The stones are pathetic, pungent, eloquent, 
forcible, and to the point, and possess a power of concentrating the attention 
of the reader not oftenfound in the modern novel or story." — Liverpool Albion. 



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS ON "STRANGE CLUES"— Continued. 

"A series of stories by the great detective, Jamie M'Govan. The 
stories have a good deal of variety. With the cool sagacity of M'Govan i? 
contrasted the hot-headed blundering of M 'Sweeny, an Irishman, with 
the national failing of pugnacity." — The Queen. 

" ' Strange Clues,' by Detective M'Govan, is quite as worthy of attention 
as any of the novels of Miss Braddon, and has the superior recommenda- 
tion of truthfulness, which her works never even simulate. It may well 
compare with the strangest fiction. The stories are told in a vivid and 
graphic style, and are lightened up with touches of tender feeling, which 
show that the occupations of the writer have not hardened his heart. It is 
sure to find many readers in all classes of society." — Dundee Advertiser. 

" It presents the same features of humour, pathos, and carefulness ol 
detail, which characterised those which preceded it. At times one cannot 
resist a hearty laugh at the incidents narrated, while at others an unusual 
softness about the eyes proclaims the feelings stirred by contemplation of 
the woes of the innocent victims of vicious relatives. We willingly beai 
testimony that the stories written by this author are about the purest and besi 
of the kind which have been published." — Daily Review. 

"From beginning to end there is not a dull page, and the excellent 
blending of the grave and the gay, the ludicrous and the pathetic, bears 
unmistakable evidence that he knows well how to meet a healthy taste in 
story-telling." — Aberdeen Free Press. 

"The book, which is likely to be popular with a large class of readers 
is by no means morbid in its character, the stories being told simply, and in 
just such a quiet, matter-of-fact manner as we can imagine a detective would 
adopt." — Lady's Pictorial. 

" Many of the incidents recorded, like that of the ' Harvest Mystery,' or 
poor little ' Aileen O'Reilly's Task,' are of a character to awaken the best 
and kindliest feelings of our nature, to draw out our sympathies towards the 
characters described, and our admiration towards Mr M'Govan for his sense 
of humour, his insight into human nature, his mastery of pathos, his graphic 
descriptions, and the lot of good human nature with which this keen-eyed 
Edinburgh detective is charged. It is the best book of the kind I have 
ever read." — Newcastle Chronicle. 

" The best detective stories (true stories, we esteem them) that we ever 
met with. Mr M'Govan's narratives, odd as it may sound, are the record 
of a life spent in going about doing good; not merely bringing offenders to 
justice, but bringing help and comfort to deserving persons." — Publisher's 
Circular. 

"All told with the most charming simplicity, and full of humour and 
pathos. Each story is complete in itself, but he must be an unenviable 
specimen of humanity who, after reading one of them, can desist from a 
perusal of the whole volume. The work is no less a description of 
M 'Govan's ' bairns ' than a revelation of his own character. We hope the 
author does not consider the series complete. Every word from his pen 
will be warmly welcomed by those who have once read his works." — Mid- 
land Free Press. 

"Mr M'Govan is the author of works that have gone through many 
thousands already. Here he shows how strange clues led to strange dis- 
coveries. The ingenuity of the detective in following up the most shadowy 
trail of evidence in the pursuit of criminals, gives to the narrative a Strang • 
fascination. " — Bookseller. 



EDINBURGH and GLASGOW : JOHN MENZIES & CO. 
LONDON : SIMPKJM, MARSHALL. & CO. 



Now Beady, 5th Edition ; Pictorial Boards, 2s. 6d. ; Cloth Gilt, 3s. 6d 

TRACED AND TRACKED; 

OR, 

MEMOIRS OF A CITY DETECTIVE. 

By JAMES M 'GO VAX, 
Author of " Brought to Bay," " Hunted Down," and " Strange Clues." 



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS. 

" They are among the best specimens of the class of literature to which 
they belong. Mr M'Govan is a genuine artist in the detective line, and 
puts into his stories a touch of real human nature. Thus the volume is 
interesting from first to last." — Scotsman. 

"In 'Traced and Tracked' are to be found some of the detective's 
most interesting narratives. There are no detective stories which surpass 
those of Mr M'Govan in real interest and genuine ability. They are 
fascinating to a high degiee, and so well told that they well repay 
more than one perusal." — Eotherhetm Advertiser. 

"Good specimens of their class. M'Govan does not keep strictly to 
crime, but gives occasional digressions into sentiment. For the rest he 
writes without affectation, and keeps his piety within bounds." — 
Saturday lie view. 

" 'The very Dickens of Detectives,' as he lias been well called, his 
narratives at once fix the reader's attention, excite his sympathy, and 
satisfy his judgment. One admirable feature is his feeling for those who 
suffer for no fault of their own. A proof of the popularity of M'Govan's 
tales is to be found in the fact that they are being widely translated 
into Continental languages." — Sheffield Telegraph. 

" This volume is not a whit less interesting than its predecessors, of 
which no fewer than 25,000 have been sold. Moreover, the books have 
been translated into French and German. The ease with which Mr 
M'Govan retains his hold on the imagination and the sympathy of his 
readers, is hardly less wonderful than the skill with which he seldom fails 
to unravel a mystery." — Norwich Mercury. 

"The astuteness of M'Govan in dealing with criminals is probably 
neither greater nor less than is shown by other guardians of peace and 
property, but we know of no other detective who could clothe his 
memoirs in language so simple and effective. There is more here than 
intense realism. There is a vein of humour, and an occasional gleam of 
pathos which we may look for in vain in volumes of higher pretensions." 
— Aberdeen Journal. 



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS ON " TRACED AND TRACKED"— Continued. 



" It is iu tapping these sealed fountains of true humanity, and setting 
free the pathos and goodness that have been hid, that the secret of 
M 'Go van's success lies. Many of the tales are touchingly beautiful, and 
appeal direct to the heart. There are also gleams of humour here and 
there, and there is fascinating interest in every page." — Dundee 
Advertiser. 

" They are masterpieces — always life-like — and the story kept boiling 
from the first word to the last. We cannot wonder at M'Govan's pre- 
vious books being in their eighth edition. So, no doubt, will this one 
soon be." — Courant. 

" M'Govan discovers an amazing insight into the ways, the thoughts, 
the feelings and the frailties of poor fallen humanity, and along with 
that he wields the ready pen of a perfect master of narrative composition." 
— People's Journal. 

" In this volume he tells his stories with as much freshness and zest 
as if it had been his first, instead of his fourth volume. In criminal 
literature there is nothing so fascinating as his sketches." — Evening 
Telegraph. 

"It is almost superfluous at this time of day to recommend to the 
public Mr M'Govan's productions. Those who have read his former 
works need nothing further than a simple intimation that another 
volume has been issued, to make them eager to renew the author's 
acquaintance. M 'Govan is possessed of marked literary skill, exhibiting 
keen insight into human nature, and tender pity for the lapsed classes." 
—Edinburgh News. 

"As a writer of detective experiences, M'Govan has made a name and 
a fame. The admirable skill he displays in writing up his cases, gives 
the stories a freshness and attractiveness which make them welcome to 
all classes of readers. We hope it may be long before his right hand 
loses its cunning." — John o' Groat's Journal. 

"It is surprising how these detective stories maintain their freshness. 
' Traced and Tracked ' is the fourth volume by the same author, and in 
the whole number of stories there is no repetition of incident. Every 
story deals with a fresh incident. The book may be looked at as a proof 
and illustration of the truth that honesty is the best policy, and that 
dishonesty is never profitable. " — Free Press. 

" Notwithstanding the rough material Mr M 'Govan has to work upon, 
and the character of the chief actors in his scenes, the book does not 
contain a single expression that would offend the most sensitive. Indeed, 
we would go further, and say that M'Govan's stories are calculated to 
exercise a beneficial effect, and to serve as beacons to warn the young 
against the beginnings of crime. For downright ability, sustaine 
interest, and healthfulness of tone, we know of no stories superior to 
these detective experiences of M'Govan, and the present volume is every 
whit equal to its predecessors." — Inverness Courier. 

"We can give this book no higher praise than that it is, in every 
respect, equal in merit to any of the previous volumes. The stories are 
of the most fascinating description, with the pathetic and humorous 
judiciously blended, so that the book is suited to all tastes and moods." — 
People's Friend. 



EDINBURGH and GLASGOW: JOHN MENZIES & CO. 
LONDON : SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, & CO. 



[Eleventh Edition. 



THE VIOLIN 

HOW TO MASTER IT. 

BY A PROFESSIONAL PLAYEE, 

EDITOR OF " KOHLER'S REPOSITORY." 



C O 1ST T 

Chaptkr I. 

The Powers of the Violin— Self-Tuition 
possible— The Royal Road to Learn- 
in t> —Musical Notation — Defects of the 
Sol Fa Notation — How to Master the 
OM Notation in Two Lessons. — 3-8. 
Chapter IT. 

The Books to use and where to get them 
— Spohr's, Loder's, Farmer's, and 
Henning's Works described — " Mas- 
tery," a Relative Term— The Violin 
and the Pianoforte contrasted — The 
Age at which to begin.— 9-15. 
Chapter III. 

The choice of an Instrument — Genuine 
Cremonas and copies — Leipsic or 
German Fiddles— Testing a Violin — 
Amber Varnish, Ancient and Modem 
— The Qualities of a Good Violin — 
The Choice of a Bow— How to Re-hair 
a Bow.— 15-26. 

Chapter IV. 

Stringing the Violin— The best Strings to 
nse, and where to get them — Roman, 
Neapolitan, Padua, Silk, Steel, and 
Silver Combination Strings— Adjust- 
ing the Bridge, Sound-Post, Pegs, 
and Strings.— 27-34. 

Chapter V. 

Holding the Violin — Spohr's Fiddle- 
Holder, and others— A Diagram of a 
New Design for a Fiddle-Holder — 
The Position of the Instrument, the 
Shoulder, Ann, Hand, Wrist, and 
Fingers— Practical Hints How to Set 
the Hand to the Position. — 3543. 
Chapter VI. 

The Management of the Bow — Diagrams 
of the Hand and Fingers— Practical 
Hints how to acquire a Perfect and 
Graceful Style.— 43-51. 
Chapter VII. 

Tuning the Violin— A Diagram of the 
Finger-Board, giving all the Notes on 
every Position — Scales, how to prac- 
tise them -The Long Bow, Half Bow, 



E 1ST T 8. 

and Short Stroke — A Sure Mode of 
attaining Mastery of the Bow.— 51-58. 

Chapter VIII. 
The best. Keys to begin with— The Art ol 
Shifting — A Diagram of all the Shifts 
on the Finger-Board — The Easiest 
Shifts to begin with— Style in Finger 
ing — Kreutzer's and Saint Jacome'> 
Works described — How to Shift b> 
the Wrist without the use of the 
Shoulder.— 5S-66. 

Chapter IX. 
Eccentricities in Bowing— The Peculiar 
Bowing of Scottish Stra'ispeys Ana- 
lysed and Explained (with Examples; 
--The Bowing of Scottish Reels— The 
Bowing of Hornpipes, Newcastle Style 
—The "' Back Bow."— 67-76. 

Chapter X. 
The Graces of Solo Playing— The Slide- 
The Close and Open Shake, How to 
Master them— The Staccato Bow, how 
to Acquire it — The Playing of Harmon 
ics, Chords, and Arpeggios.— 76 87. 

Chapter XI. 
The Solo described — Easy Solos, where to 
Get them, and How to Master them- 
Orchestral and Quartette Playing— 
The Sonato and Concerto— Concluding 
Remarks and Advice to the Student 
—87-94. 

APPENDIX. 
Tho Attitude of the Performer, New 
Diagrams from Photos of the Authoi 
— Exceptional Fingering — Common 
Faults in Fingering — Performing in 
Public— To Tune Quietly— To Tune 
Hurriedly— Taking Difficult Shifts- 
The Acquisition of Tone — Legate 
Playing— Staccato, its Different Mean 
ings— " Beating" Time — The Position 
of the Left Hand— The Driven Note 
in Strathspeys— An Adapted Fiddlf 
Holder— Rapid Fingering and Clean 
Shifting— Violin Cleaning Mixture- 
Recipe for Fine Solo Rosin. 



PRICE ONE 8 H 1 L LING. 

ERNEST KOHLER & SON, 

ii 8c 12 NORTH BRIDGE, EDINBURGH. 

LONDON : JOHN LENG & CO., iS6 FLEET STREET. 

And all Music sellers and Booksellers. 



11TH EDITION, WITH NEW APPENDIX, PRICE ONE SHILLING 

THE VIOLIN; HOW TO MASTER IT, 

BY A PROFESSIONAL PLAYER. 



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS. 

"To find a really plain and practical guide to any branch of study is 
quite a rarity, for generally so-called guides are so filled with technical 
terms and ambiguous phrases, as often to puzzle the most skilful expert. 
In the present work, however, the author places his instruction in such a 
way before his pupil as to render his meaning clear at a first glance. To 
all who love the violin, but do not know how to master it, we would say, 
procure this little book, and many of the difficulties will be instantly 
smoothed away." — Pictorial World. 

"The writer of this book has accomplished a task of no common difficulty 
with uncommon ability and singular success. The difficulty is that of giving 
such verbal instruction in an art, as the student without example can clearly 
understand and put to practical use with certainty and safety. This th 
author does, from an evidently thorough knowledge of the subject, a cap- 
ability of placing himself on the same level with his pupil, and from an 
unbounded enthusiasm for the instrument whose power he is describing. 
He leaves no point untouched. One feels on reading the book as if 
being talked to by a teacher whose sympathies are keenly alive to every 
possible doubt and difficulty; as if a violin and bow were being put into 
his hand, and his every act therewith under strictest surveillance. It 
is a book that ought to be, and indeed will be, in the hands of every one 
who either plays or means to play the violin, being the most comprehensive, 
the most precise, most perspicuous, and withal the least costly of any book 
of instruction in violin playing ever issued." — Dundee Advertiser. 

"An excellent manual. Here, too, are full details of the playing 
of Scotch dance music, so puzzling to English players. The professional 
violinist might learn something from its pages, while there can be nc 
question that, as regards the amateur, this book supplies a want. The 
instruction even of a good teacher requires to be supplemented by more 
information, to be available at all times. This the book furnishes, and 
that excellently. The work deserves to be known by all players. Teachers 
will do well to put it in the hands of their pupils. It will enable them to 
teach more intelligently, while the pupils will be more apt to receive in- 
struction, and to profit largely by \V— Norwich Weekly Journal. 

"A very handy, sensible book, furnishing much valuable information 
and a great deal of interesting talk about the ' king of the orchestra.' The 
observations on bowing are most clear, and to the point. ' Harmonic 
playing,' too, is dealt with with admirable lucidity. The choice and pre- 
servation of an instrument, and many other topics connected with its 
mastery and care, are equally well handled." — Musical Standard. 

"A better mentor than this shilling book a learner of the violin could 
not have, and even those regarded as proficient cannot fail to be benefited 
by a study of its pages. The book is admirably illustrated, and is sure to 
meet with general approval." — Kotherham Advertiser. 

" It is violin teaching popularised by one whom we know to be a pro- 
ficient and skilful player, and whose understanding of the instrument is as 
pearly as possible perfect. To this he adds a style of lucid exposition which 
enables him to make every line and sentence understood. The work is 
thorough in treatment and exhaustive in scope, and should be in the hands 
of all who desire to become really proficient players." — Evening Telegraph, 



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS ON "THE VLOUX"— Confined. 

"This is really a pleasant, profitable, and useful manual of how to play 
the violin. The writer is a professional, and takes the pupil into his con- 
fidence, and makes a difficult study at once interesting and entertaining. We 
commend the hearty manner in which the varied and useful information is 
imparted, and wish the treatise a wide circulation. " — "John o' Groat Journal. 

"To the violinist this work on his or her favourite instrument cannot 
fail to be acceptable ; and as a handbook for the novice it will be equally 
useful, teaching him what to study and what to avoid, thus marking out 
many rocks and shoals on which he may become a hopeless and disgusted 
shipwreck. The author has arranged his matter in a candid and pro- 
gressive manner, giving sufficient instruction on the various subjects con- 
nected with violin playing." — Liverpool Albion. 

"This is a text-book for the violin which from beginning to end shows 
As author to be thoroughly in sympathy with the task he has undertaken, 
and well acquainted with the instrument about which he writes. With 
considerable skill and minuteness he has produced an admirable guide. 
Directions what to imitate, and what to avoid, are given with sufficient 
clearness to prove a boon to those struggling to master the instrument. 
Illustrations are supplied where necessary, and the book is written by one 
who, while withholding his name, wishes to save others ' years of weary 
struggling, and blind groping, and retracing of steps and unlearning of evil 
habits of style.' " — Daily Review. 

"A complete treatise on the violin. The author being himself a pro- 
fessional player, who has had a long experience, is a most competent in- 
structor. Premising that self-tuition is perfectly possible, he leads the 
student step by step from things comparatively simple to things difficult 
and intricate, the result being that the tyro who pays strict attention to the 
instructions and practices patiently and diligently, will very soon acquire a 
mastery over his instrument, and be able to play high-class music. Let the 
tyro submit himself implicitly to its guidance, and he can scarcely fail to 
become a proficient violinist." — People's Journal. 

" The popular style in which this treatise is written should strongly re- 
commend it to students. The very questions they constantly desire to 
ask are here more plainly answered than in works of the greatest authorities 
upon the instrument. There are good observations on the choice of an 
instrument; salutary cautions against the tricks of unscrupulous manu- 
facturers; many practical hints respecting holding, stringing, tuning, bow- 
ing, &c. ; and some very useful directions as to the course of study to be 
pursued, the standard books being recommended in systematic order 
Many students will thank the author for his labours on their behalf." — 
Musical Times. 

" This is what it professes to be — a practical exposition of the difficulties 
of the violin and how to master these ; and the student cannot fail to find 
valuable instruction in the clear and concise explanations." — Kelso Chronicle. 

" This book on the violin is full of shrewd, practical advice and instruc- 
tion, and forms a very valuable supplement to the regular manuals, such as 
Spohr's and Loder's. The author has contrived to make his work readable 
and interesting, as well as instructive. He treats his theme with real 
enthusiasm. " — Scotsman. 

"It is wonderful, well packed, comprehensive, and thoroughly practical." 
— Lady's Pictorial. 



EDINBURGH: E. KOHLER & SON. 

LONDON : JOHN LENG & CO., 186 FLEET STREET. 

And all Afusicsellert and Booksellers. 



Second Edition. Full Music Size. Price 2s. 

THE YOUNG VIOLINIST'S TUTOR 

AND 

DUET BOOK. 

A collection of Easy Airs, Operatic Selections, and Familiar Melodies, 
harmonised as Duets for Two Violins, with simple Scales and Progressive 
Exercises, and full directions for Parents, Pupil, and Teacher ; the whole 
arranged on an entirely new principle, in a pleasing and attractive manner, 
for the use of Beginners. 

BY A PROFESSIONAL PLAYER, 

AUTHOR OF "THE VIOLIN : HOW TO MASTER IT. 



The principles upon which this book is arranged may be summarised 
thus — I. Giving the young pupil more practice than theory. — II. Te ching 
him the notes alphabetically and only to the extent required at each 
stage. — III. Placing only the two strings most easily reached by little 
hands and short fingers— the first and second — before him at first, and taking 
him gradually backwards on the strings till he can command the whole four. 
— IV. Giving him the easiest scales in fingering and for setting well the hand. 
—V. Training him to use the fourth finger without shiftiness of the h nd by 
always giving him a grip of the violin with the first or second finger. — 

VI. Giving him more melodies and pleasing airs than exerc ses. — 

VII. Accustoming him from the first to play concerted music, t ereby 
training the ear and laying the foundation for future firmness, power, and 
tone in orchestral playing. — VIII. Making him early to play upon the 
shift by giving him easy melodies, introducing the Third and Fifth positions, 
thus setting the hand and thumb properly to the upper, as well as the 1 wer 
part of the finger-board. 

The whole book is arranged as a First Tutor or Primer, to teach the art 
of playing the Violin and the reading of music by the simplest and surest 
steps ever devised, and though specially designed for the young is 
eminently suitable for beginners of any age. 

The Duets, which form a leading feature of the work, are adapted for 
teacher and pupil, for two pupils practising together, or for one pupil more 
advanced than another superintending the younger player's studies. Even 
advanced students will find many of the Duets an agreeable means of pass- 
ing a pleasant hour. 

EDINBURGH : E. KOIILER & SON. 

LONDON : JOHN LENG & CO., 186 FLEET STREET. 

And si I Musictellers and Booksellers 



CONTENTS 

OP 

THE YOUNG VIOLINIST'S TUTOR AND DUET BOOK. 



Introduction — Hints to Parents and 
Beginners. 

Open String Exercise. 

First Scale, A Major. 

Diagram of Finger-Board for First 
Scale. 

First Melody. 

Indian Air. 

The Blue Bells of Scotland. 

Rouseau's Hymn. 

Cuppie Shell. 

Study in Notes and their Equivalent 
Rests. 

John and Ann. 

Scale of D Major. 

Nelly Bly. 

Extended Scale of D Major. 

Diagram of Finger-Board for Extended 
Scale of D Major. 

Coal Black Rose. 

West End Hornpipe. 

Be Kind to thy Father. 

First Exercise for the Fourth Finger. 

First Exercise in Slurring. 

Grandfather's Clock. 

Scale of G Major. 

Diagram of Finger-Board for Scale of 
G Major. 

Scale Exercise in G Major. 

Ten Little Niggers. 

Bonnie Charlie. 

Home, Sweet Home, with Easy Varia- 
tion. 

Mermaid's Song, from "Oberon." 

Andante from the " Surprise " Sym- 
phony. 

Second Exercise in Slurring. 

A Highland Lad. 

Annie Laurie. 

Wae's Me for Prince Charlie. 

First Exercise in Shifting. 

Easy Melody, introducing the Third 
Position. 

Exercise in Slurring Fifths. 

Extended Scale of D Major. 

Exercise in Shifting on Two Strings. 

The Wounded Hussar. 

Exercise in Sharply Defining Semi- 
tones. 

The Blue Bells of Scotland (arranged 
as an Easy Solo, with Variations). 

Ye Banks and Braes. 

To Mary in Heaven. 



Daily Exercise. 

When the Kye Comes Hame. 

Olga Waltz. 

Little Liza's Hornpipe. 

Exercise in Linked Dotted Notes. 

The Keel Row. 

Lannigan's Ball. 

First Study in the Shake. 

Staccato Study. 

Legato Study. 

Meditation. 

Toddum's Polka. 

Extended Scale of G Major. 

First Study in Crossing the Strings. 

Second Study in the Shake. 

I Know a Bank. 

First Scale of C Major. 

Easy Melody on the First Scale of C 

Major. 
Extended Scale of C Major. 
German Song. 
Exercise in Fingering the Imperfect 

Fifth in C Major. 
Second Study in Crossing the Strings. 
Blucher's March. 

Daily Exercise in Legato Bowing. 
Silver Bell Schottische (introducing 

Melody by Spohr). 
Duet from " Rigoletto." 
Extended Scale of D Major, introduc- 
ing the Fifth Position. 
Easy Melody on the Third and Fifth 

Positions. 
Pleyel's First Duet. 
Scale of F Major. 
Life Let us Cherish. 
Melody from Loder (Harmonised). 
Daily Legato Exercise. 
March of the Men of Harlech. 
Scale of B Flat Major. 
Easy Melody for Setting the Hand to 

B Flat. 
Duet from " Don Pasquale." 
Flora M 'Donald's Lament. 
Duet from "La Traviata." 
First Scale of E Flat. 
Shells of Ocean. 
Extended Scale of A Major. 
Exercise on the Extended Scale of A 

Major. 
Second Study in Stretched Notes. 
Conclusion. 



EDINBURGH : E. KOHLER & SON, NORTH BRIDGE. 



flow Ready, Second Edition. Full Music Size. Price 2s. 

THE YOUNG VIOLINIST'S TUTOR 

AND 

DUET BOOK. 

BY A PKOFESSIONAL PLAYER, 

AUTHOR OF ' 

OPINIONS OF THE PRESS. 

" ' The Young Violinist's Tutor and Duet Book' should be placed in 
the hands of all beginners, on account of the pleasing and attractive 
manner in which it is arranged. The Introduction gives some very useful 
hints on the study of this instrument, so charming when well played." — 
6rap7iic. 

' ' The author has evidently devoted a large portion of his time to closely 
observing the difficulties which children have to encounter in entering 
upon this study, and to judge by this work the time has not been spent in 
vain. By a skilfully arranged series of exercises, the fingers are gradually 
placed in position, and the bow arm carefully trained, while the simple 
and attractive melodies are so arranged as to apply the lessons already 
learned in the exercises. In this way the little pupil is interested in the 
study, and his love for the instrument developed, and by the time the last 
page is reached, it will be found that he has made real advance not only in 
violin playing but in general musical knowledge. This rational method 
of instruction will be found to be one of the best that has hitherto been 
made public, and we heartily recommend it to teachers and parents." — 
Saturday Review. 

" This is a collection of easy airs, operatic selections, and familiar 
melodies harmonised as duets for two violins, and interspersed with 
scales, exercises, and instructions, so as to form an elementary course 
of instruction. The aim of the author has been, in fact, to make easier 
the work both of beginners on this difficult instrument and of the teacher. 
As most of the instruction books take for granted a certain amount of 
knowledge on the part of the pupil, there is ample room for a work which, 
like this, begins at the beginning. The author is a violinist of ex- 

Jjerienee, and the book furnishes abundant evidence of his thorough know- 
edge of his subject." — Scotsman. 

" We can heartily commend it as an efficient and trustworthy guide 
for young or old, who intend learning to play the violin. The collection 
of airs is most attractive, and they are all pleasantly harmonised as duets 
for two violins. The author has put clear-headed practical instruction in 
every page. It will decidedly give a great impetus to violin playing, for 
he has succeeded in making the subject so attractive that we feel half 
inclined, stiff as our fingers are, to take up the fiddle and the bow, so easy 
and simple does the learning of the instrument seem from the lessons here 
given." — People's Friend. 

" Of this work we learn that 1500 copies were sold the first month of 
issue. The ' Tutor ' seems admirably adapted to the object aimed at — 
the providing of easy and attractive lessons for young beginners on the 
uost delightful of all musical instruments." — Aberdeen Journal. 



The Press on " The Young Violinist's Tutor and Duet Book " — Continued. 

" This book may be distinguished as thoroughly practical. By the wise 
selection of a number of tunes in a variety of styles, and prefacing both 
these and a few short studies for daily practice, with ample instructions 
on technical matters, the author has provided enough materials for the 
successful training of a youth in the elementary part of violin playing. 
All the tunes are well arranged as duets, so that the master need not 
follow the vicious plan of covering up his pupils' faults by superior play- 
ing, for he has the means at hand in a simple accompaniment for giving 
needful help in mastering the difficulties of time and tune." — Xorwich 
Mercury. 

' ' The increased popularity of this instrument has induced the author of 
' The Violin: How to Master it,' to arrange and compose a tutor specially 
adapted for the young, who alone can hope to attain genuine command of 
the king of all instruments. Judging from the clear and concise style, 
and the extraordinary popularity of this writer's former work, we predict 
for this ' Tutor' a great success."- — Evening Telegraph. 

" Useful hints for teachers and pupils are here given, with a good 
selection of pieces for practice."- — Pictorial World. 

" As a beginner's method it could not be easier. The difficulties are 
reduced to a minimum by an exceedingly gradual and highly pleasurable 
course of study, and by the plainest possible verbal instruction. The 
author, who is clearly an enthusiast and a most capable instructor in the 
art of violin playing, spares no pains to secure the pupil's comfort as he 
progresses, the result being that the learner feels the labour of practice 
lost in the love for it. The course of study is almost entirely through 
familiar airs set as duets, and selected with remarkable aptitude to ensure 
safe and smooth progress." — Dundee Advertiser. 

" To learn to play the violin while young is universally admitted to be 
the only road to marked ability with that wonderful instrument ; but 
where is the violin tutor which any child could look at without its brain 
beginning to reel ? The author of ' The Violin : How to Master it,' who 
may fairly take credit for much of the impetus given to violin playing 
within the past few years, answers this question by producing a tutor 
which, with what we take to be a touch of sly humour, he says is 
■ arranged on an entirely new principle, in a pleasing and attractive 
manner, for the use of beginners.' Certain success awaits ' The Young 
Violinist's Tutor.' " — People's Journal. 

' ' The violin has come greatly into request lately with ladies, and it is 
found that the more delicate fingers of girls are not less calculated to 
attain mastery of the finger-board than those of men. It has, moreover, 
been abundantly shown that the female performer on the violin has a 
style, and produces a tone quite unlike those of her male compeer, and 
that the fiddle in her hands is revealed as a new instrument. These few 
remarks are deemed a propos of the ' Tutor ' before us, which is thoroughly 
practical, and has our warm commendation." — The Queen. 



ERNEST KOHLER & SON, 
11 & 12 NORTH BRIDGE, EDINBURGH. 

aSl> TO BE HAT) OF ALL MUSICSELLERS AND BOOKSELLERS, 



Second Edition. Full Music Size. Price Is. Postage ljd. 

THREE EASY FANTASIAS ON SCOTTISH AIRS 

For the VIOLIN, with an Accompaniment for the Pianoforte. 

By A PROFESSIONAL PLAYER. 
Author of " The Violin : How to Master it," "The Young Violinist's 
Tutor and Duet Book," &c, 

No.l. 

Introducing " To Mary in Heaven," "There's nae luck aboot the Hoose, 
"Ye Banks and Braes o' Bonnie Doon," and "Rob Roy MacGregor, !" 

No. 2. 

Introducing " Logie o' Buchan," " Hielant Lad," " Anld Robin Gray," 
and "The Keel' Row." 

No. 3. 

Introducing " Comin thro' the Rye," " The Flowers of the Forest," and 
"The Fairy Dance." 

Price of the whole, with Accompaniment, 
ONE SHILLING, 



OPINIONS OF THE PRESS. 

" Admirers of easily-set popular melodies will be pleased with these 
Fantasias. " — Graphic. 

"Three easy Fantasias by the Professional Player, whose 'Violin: 
How to Master it,' has been widely accepted as a standard guide to the 
enjoyment of a difficult instrument. The arrangement is pleasing, and 
the fingering well within the capacity of young students of the violin." — 
Norwich Weekly Journal. 

"Young violinists in search of easy compositions in a popular style 
will find suitable study in these Fantasias. The airs of thirteen well- 
known Scottish songs are introduced with simple variations, and signs are 
employed above the notes to indicate the proper movements of the bow." 
— Glasgow Mail. 

"The selection is excellent, and will prove good practice on both 
instruments for juveniles. " — Daily Review. 

" These Fantasias are delightful exercises for young violinists, and will 
make capital pieces for performance either in public or the family circle. " 
— People's Friend. 

"Amateur players of average proficiency may get through them without 
difficulty. The airs have beett set in easy keys for the violinist, and 
shifts are but sparingly entered upon." — Glasgow Herald. 

"The Composer has earned for himself a distinguished reputation by 
his excellent works on the violin. As full instructions are given for the 
management of the bow in playing these pieces, the publication will be of 
great use to the young violinist." — People's Journal. 

" These Fantasias are well adapted for players at an early stage, as they 
are carefully marked throughout with technical directions." — Courant. 



EDINBURGH: E. KOHLER & SON. 

LONDON: JOHN LENG & CO., 186 FLEET STREET. 

And all Musicsellers and Booksellers. 



HP 
Uniform with "STRANGE CLUES." Pictorial Boards, 
Price 2s. 6d. ; Cloth $% 3s. 6d. 



M'GOVAN'S 



DETECTIVE 



EXPERIENCES 



"BROU'GHT TO BAY ' 

(TENTH EDITION). 



H UNTED DOW N," 



{EIGHTH EDITION). 



"TRACED AND TE A CKED ," 

(FIFTH EDITION). 



•* Nowhere in the English (pnguage, so far as /, are the] 

:ctive .stories vvliich can e^ual these for interest and genuine abilit 
Scotsman. 

" That troth is stranger than fiction i daily proved b*/ the episodes which 
come under the notice of the detective force; and t! nc« o( an 

F.dinlu' £h detective, as detailed by Mr M'Govan, may vie for variei 
i'x6^emerft with the most startling creations of a sensation novel." — 
• Graphic. 

" Hu-iorous, pathetic, graphic, vigorous, and intensely fascinal 
Pictorial IV'ond. 



EDINBURGH AND GLASGOW: J. MENZIES & CO. 
LONDON: S1MPKIN, MARSHALL, & CO. 

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